Afifa Karam (عفيفة كرم :1883-1924) ia a pioneering Lebanese novelist and journalist born in the village of `Amshit. she was educated at village convent school and Sisters of the holy Family School in Jubayl. She married at the age of thirteen and immigrated to the U.S. with her husband in 1897.
She enriched her knowledge of culture with extensive reading and wrote for the diaspora press, including the journal al-Huda. She established the journal, al-Mar'a al-Suriya (1911-1913), after which she published the monthly al-Alam al-jadid (1913). She was also a correspondent for al-Mar'a al-jadida. She translated Alexander Dumas' novel, The Regent;s Daughter (Ibnat na'ib al-malik), as well as the novel, Malika li-yawm (Queen for Day).
Although it has been the general consensus in the Arab world that the first modern novel in Arabic literature is Zainab, by the Egyptian writer Hussayn Haykal (1914), in fact, Afifa Karam wrote the first novel in Arabic in 1906. It was Badi'awa Fouad, published by Al-Huda newspaper (New York). Since then Arab women writers have been writing novels and short stories, but without claiming the amount of attention accorded to men writers.
(From Arab Women Writers A Critical reference Guide by Radwa Ashour & Feryal Ghazoul)
- Badi`a wa Fu'ad (Badi`a wa Fu'ad, novel). Cairo: 1906.
- Fatima al-badawiya (Bedouin Fatima, novel). New York: 1906.
- Ghadat `Amshit (The Beauty of `Amshit, novel). New York: 1914.
- Muhammed `Ali al-kabir (Muhammed `Ali the Great, novel).
- Cliyubatra (Cleopatra, novel)