Raised in Latin America, France and the Arab world, and educated in the United States and United Kingdom.
Poet, playwright and literary travel writer, her recent books include the flash collectionThe Republics, which Patricia Smith lauds as “one of the most inventive books by one of today’s most diverse writers” and winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing; the bestselling bilingual collectionLa estrella invisible / The Invisible Star; the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award, which The New York Times says is “a book that trembles with belonging (and longing).” Handal is the editor of the groundbreaking classic The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology, winner of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award, and named one of the top 10 Feminist Books by The Guardian; and co-editor of the W.W. Norton landmark anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond, both Academy of American Poets bestsellers.
She has worked on over twenty theatrical productions either as a playwright, director or producer. Author of eight plays, her most recent works have been produced at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Bush Theatre and Westminster Abbey in London. Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Nation, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, on PBS andNPR, among others; and she served in several countries as a lecturer and cultural diplomat for the U.S. State Department. Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, Centro Andaluz de las Letras Fellow, Fondazione di Venezia Fellow, winner of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, and Honored Finalist for the Gift of Freedom Award, among other honors. Based in New York City and Paris, she is a professor at Columbia University and part of the Low-Residency MFA Faculty at Sierra Nevada College.
She writes the literary travel column The City and the Writer for Words without Borders.