Pokeygirl and The Guys have expressed interest in modern writers from the Middle East, I've done some research and found some authors of to add to their reading list. Many of the writers I looked up are difficult to locate in the US and copies of their books must be ordered online. From everything I've read today Simin Daneshvar, the first Iranian woman to be published, and Bahman Sholevar, whose last novel has never been printed in his own country, seem like very interesting and important authors to look at. A book that's been very popular in the last couple years has also been Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.
I've picked up a novel called The Blood of Flowers at my local library. It's the first novel by Iranian born author Anita Amirrezvani. The story is a historical fiction about Persian carpet dyers in the seventeenth century. It sounds very interesting and I love the title. I'll report back as I read it.
Film wise, I must recomend Persepolis, especially if you're into graphic art. A beautiful story about a young Iranian woman during the Islamic Revolution that is funnier than you might expect due to the serious setting.
In most of my English studies the focus was American and British literature, I would love to start expanding to world literature and this might be a great place to start. Let me know if these suggestions are helpful or any books and authors from this region or others that you have read or heard of. If you've read any of the above it would be very nice to have your opinion on the texts.