WINNER OF THE NAGUIB MAHFOUZ MEDAL FOR LITERATURE A fierce and moving work and an unparalleled rendering of the human aspects of the Palestinian predicament. Barred from his homeland after 1967’s Six-Day War, the poet Mourid Barghouti spent thirty years in exile—shuttling among the world’s cities, yet secure in none of them; separated from his family for years at a time; never certain whether he was a visitor, a refugee, a citizen, or a guest. As he returns home for the first time since the Israeli occupation, Barghouti crosses a wooden bridge over the Jordan River into Ramallah and is unable to recognize the city of his youth. Sifting through memories of the old Palestine as they come up against what he now encounters in this mere “idea of Palestine,” he discovers what it means to be deprived not only of a homeland but of “the habitual place and status of a person.” A tour de force of memory and reflection, lamentation and resilience, I Saw Ramallah is a deeply humane book, essential to any balanced understanding of today’s Middle East.
This book presents an introduction to key issues involved in the study of postcolonial literature including diasporas, postcolonial nationalisms, indigenous identities and politics and globalization. This book also contains a chapter on afterlives and adaptations that explores a range of wider cultural texts including film, non-fiction and art.
This book reconsiders the notion of liminality in postcolonial critical discourse today. By visiting Mashriqi writers of memoir, Bugeja offers a unique intervention in the understanding of 'in-between' and ‘threshold’ states in present-day postcolonialist thought. His analysis situates liminal space as a fraught form of consciousness that mediates between conditions of historical contingency and the memorializing present. Within the present Mashriqi memoir form, liminal spaces may be read as articulations of 'representational spaces' — narrative spaces that, based as they are within the histories of local communities, are nonetheless redolent with memorial and imaginary elements. Liminal consciousness today, Bugeja argues, is a direct consequence of the impact of volatile present-day memories on the re-conception of the open wounds of history. Incisive readings of life-writings by Mourid Barghouti, Amin Maalouf, Orhan Pamuk, Amos Oz, and Wadad Makdisi Cortas demonstrate the double-edged representational chasm that opens up when present acts of memorializing are brought to bear upon the elusive histories of the early-twentieth-century Mashriq. Sifting through the wide-ranging theoretical literature on liminality and challenging received views of the concept, this book proposes a nuanced, materialist, and original rethinking of the liminal as a more vigilant outlook onto the political, literary and historical predicaments of the contemporary Middle East.
The crisis in Israel/Palestine has long been the worlds most visible military conflict. Yet the regions cultural and intellectual life remains all but unknown to most foreign observers, which means that literary texts that make it into circulation abroad tend to be received as historical documents rather than aesthetic artefacts. Rhetorics of Belonging examines the diverse ways in which Palestinian and Israeli world writers have responded to the expectation that they will narrate the nation, invigorating critical debates about the political and artistic value of national narration as a reading and writing practice. It considers writers whose work is rarely discussed together, offering new readings of the work of Edward Said, Amos Oz, Mourid Barghouti, Orly Castel-Bloom, Sahar Khalifeh, and Anton Shammas. This book helps to restore the category of the nation to contemporary literary criticism by attending to a context where the idea of the nation is so central a part of everyday experience that writers cannot not address it, and readers cannot help but read for it. It also points a way toward a relational literary history of Israel/Palestine, one that would situate Palestinian and Israeli writing in the context of a history of antagonistic interaction. The book's findings are relevant not only for scholars working in postcolonial studies and Israel/Palestine studies, but for anyone interested in the difficult and unpredictable intersections of literature and politics.
In the spring of 1986, Mohamed Makhzangi was living in Kiev, an Egyptian doctor studying in the Ukraine. As a result, he--like thousands of others--found himself living a nuclear nightmare when the Chernobyl plant had a catastrophic meltdown. Despite numerous fail-safe protections, human error sent massive quantities of deadly radiation into the serene spring of the Soviet sky. In superbly crafted prose, Memories of a Meltdown describes the days that followed from Makhzangi's dual perspective, as both an outsider and a victim. Described by the author as an 'anti-memoir, ' this assemblage of impressions in the aftermath of the meltdown offers a searing account of factual events distilled through the filter of literature. Blending the realism of journalism with the emotional resonance of fiction, Makhzangi conveys the quiet but steadily mounting atmosphere of fear and panic, the dubious reliability of official statements, and an overall loss of the sense of safety, of anything ever being right with the world again. From the balding colleague who is concerned only about whether his hair will fall out, to a grandfather, fetching his young grandson a drink, who believes that there is less contamination in hot tap water than cool, Makhzangi portrays people unwilling or unable to believe in the magnitude of the disaster unfolding around them. In the finest tradition of literary reportage, Makhzangi masterfully conveys here the loneliness of exile, the urgency of a great tragedy, and the intimacy of personal experience.
Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education focuses on providing a humanistic perspective on pedagogy by relating it to the interpretive practices of particular public educators: thinkers and writers whose work has had an immeasurable impact on how we understand and interpret the world and how our understandings and interpretations act on that world. Jon Nixon focuses on the work of four public intellectuals each of whom reaches out to a wide public readership and develops our understanding regarding the nature of interpretation in the everyday world: Hannah Arendt's work on 'representative thinking', John Berger's injunction to 'hold everything dear', Edward Said's notion of 'democratic criticism', and Martha Nussbaum's studies in the intelligence of feeling. These thinkers provide valuable perspectives on the nature and purpose of interpretation in everyday life. The implications of these perspectives for the development of a transformative pedagogy - and for the renewal of an educated public - are examined in relation to the current contexts of higher education within a knowledge society.
A young man’s dreams for a better future as a student in the Teachers’ Institute are shattered after he assaults one of his instructors for discriminating against him. From then on, he begins his descent into the underworld. Penniless, he seeks refuge in Wikalat ‘Atiya, a historic but now completely run-down caravanserai that has become the home of the town’s marginal and underprivileged characters. This award-winning novel takes on epic dimensions as the narrator escorts us on a journey to this underworld, portraying—as he sinks further into its intricate relationships—the many characters that inhabit it. Through a labyrinth of tales, reminiscent of the popular Arab tradition of storytelling, we are introduced to these denizens, whose lives oscillate between the real and the fantastic, the contemporary and the timeless. And while the narrator starts out as a spectator of these characters’ lives, he soon becomes an integral part of the lodging house’s community of rogues.
“I have returned to settle my account. . . .” Told through the voices of a group of close friends and spanning a generation, The Smiles of the Saints is an epic story condensed into a short, intricate novel. Twenty-year-old Haneen has just returned to Egypt after an absence of fifteen years spent mostly in a Parisian boarding school, cut off from all family save for sporadic visits from her father, Rami. She has been summoned back by her father’s twin sister, who gives her an envelope containing his diaries, the last section of which is missing. Reading Rami’s account of the passionate love affairs and tortured spiritual adventures of his youth, Haneen begins to unravel the riddle of a family she has barely known. Herself the child of a Muslim–Christian marriage, Haneen, in love with a Jewish man, is considering adding a further religious dimension to her family. But someone is carefully watching the proceedings, a figure from the past. Who exactly is this, and what stake does he have in Haneen’s return? Couched in a pervasive air of mystery, Ibrahim Farghali’s novel is resonant with observations on the intricacies of human entanglements.
Basrayatha is a literary tribute by author Mohammed Khudayyir to the city of his birth, Basra, on the Shatt al-Arab waterway in southern Iraq. Just as a city’s inhabitants differ from outsiders through their knowledge of its streets as well as its stories, so Khudayyir distinguishes between the real city of Basra and Basrayatha, the imagined city he has created through stories, experiences, and folklore. By turns a memoir, a travelogue, a love letter, and a meditation, Basrayatha summons up images of a city long gone. In loving detail, Khudayyir recounts his discovery of his city as a child, as well as past communal banquets, the public baths, the delights of the Muslim day of rest, the city’s flea markets and those who frequent them, a country bumpkin’s big day in the city, Hollywood films at the local cinema, daily life during the Iran–Iraq War, and the canals and rivers around Basra. Above all, however, the book illuminates the role of the storyteller in creating the cities we inhabit. Evoking the literary modernism of authors like Calvino and Borges, and tinged with nostalgia for a city now disappeared, Basrayatha is a masterful tribute to the power of memory and imagination.