Zaina Arafat is the author of You Exist Too Much, which won a 2021 Lambda Literary Award and was named Roxane Gay’s favorite book of 2020. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE, BuzzFeed, Granta, Guernica, The Believer, Harper’s Bazaarand Virginia Quarterly Review.  She holds an MA in international affairs from Columbia University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. In recognition of her work, Zaina was awarded the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts and named a Champion of Pride by The Advocate. She is currently at work on an essay collection.

Zaina has taught writing at the University of Iowa, The School of the New York Times, the International Writing Program and Sackett Street Writers, as well as abroad in Jordan, Egypt and Eritrea, where she led creative writing workshops as part of a U.S. State Department/International Writing Program delegation. She has also led workshops for dreamers and DACA recipients through the Writer’s Guild Initiative. As an editor, she curated a portfolio of prose and poetry in response to the travel ban, as well as a Q & A series with marginalized writers for The Margins.  She has also served as a columnist for Xtra Magazine and a culture writer for VICE.


  • MFA, Creative Writing (Nonfiction), The University of Iowa
  • MA, International Affairs, School of International & Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • BA, Foreign Affairs & Philosophy, University of Virginia
  • Intensive Arabic Program (CAMES), American University of Beirut