Author Archive

Home as Metonymy for Country in The Locust and the Bird: My Mother’s Story

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Set in decades past, Hanan al-Shaykh’s novel remains relevant to women’s rights today: she uses her narrator’s struggle to draw upon sociopolitical issues, positioning women’s stories as a means of redefining the political and societal in terms of the personal, and insisting on the importance of reaching beyond presiding

Shadows of Love, Secrecy, and Ownership in Celestial Bodies

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Jokha Alharthi’s novel is the first book by an Arab author to win the Man Booker International Prize. In it, Alharthi crafts a stunning rumination on love, responsibility, feminism, and freedom, as well as the unavoidably sour ramifications of the accompanying disappointment and betrayal.

Shape and Space in the Revolutionary City, Personified

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In this historic moment of upheaval, Ahdaf Soueif’s memoir of Egypt’s 2011 revolution inspires and reminds us that cities will always belong to their people; as long as Cairo exists, its people will push forward.

Ugliness in Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell and Notes from Prison

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Despite the trouble and humiliation Ibrahim endured as a political prisoner and later as a writer in attempting to publish his work, the timeless value of his lessons is undeniable: the impositions of decency and social and literary norms often serve only to exacerbate the problems they claim to

“Unassimilation” and Nabarun Bhattacharya’s Harbart

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Writing within the form of the novel yet against its western traditions, Bhattacharya’s presence in the international English literary sphere beckons the reader to look closer into the chaos.

How the United States Nurtures Violence

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While the characters of Laila Lalami’s newest novel confront and sometimes overcome the discomfort caused by their differences, Lalami presents one final troubling question for her readers: what markers of violence have our willingly blind eyes allowed to fester?

The Refusal of Boundaries in Etel Adnan’s Surge and Time

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Adnan’s rejection of boundaries of time, geography, and standard logic echoes the very nature of two of her works: one written in English, one translated from French, one intentionally written as a collection, one pulled together from many years of disparate writing.

Language of the Diaspora

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Although none of the characters in Isabella Hammad’s new novel are diasporic themselves, her intricate use of Arabic instills the mixed language of diaspora with a fresh purpose.

The Threshold of Memory and Return

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Confronting the manifestations of trauma in individual people and larger communities, the nonlinear form of Iman Humaydan’s 2012 novel exposes the importance of living with complexity despite its accompanying discomfort in the context of the Lebanese Civil War and beyond.

Intimacy and Resistance Through Food

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Leila S. Chudori’s 2012 novel uses food as a mechanism to create and sustain intimacy during political exile and as a method of resistance against the imposed narrative of the dictatorship.