Arab authors & literary institutions: Interview with Fadia Faqir

This is the proof of an interview that was first published in the Journal of Postcolonial Writing (48.1) in March 2010.


‘If the discourse in the metropolis aims to de-humanise Arabs and make them disappear in order to justify ‘collateral damage,’ my fiction and writing aims to humanise not only the Arabs, but the English, the Americans, the Indians etc. It is harder, perhaps, to shoot someone you know very well.’ (Fadia Faqir)

Fadia Faqir’s moving commitment to the novel as a humanising form reflects her optimism about generating change through literature. This resonates with recent scholarship on the ethics of literature, particularly with Martha Nussbaum’s claim that the novel formally constructs empathy and compassion ‘in ways highly relevant to citizenship’ (“Poetic” 10). Faqir is the author of three novels and a number of short stories and plays. She also writes critical essays, and has edited and translated many works, particularly in her role as senior editor for the Arab Women Writers series. Faqir was born in Jordan, and has lived in Britain for 25 years. She writes mainly in English, although her writing has been translated and published internationally. Her most recent novel, My Name is Salma (2007), narrates the experiences of a young Bedouin girl who is forced by her family to leave her home in the Levant after she becomes pregnant outside marriage. Salma’s first person narrative is predominantly set in Britain and structured by episodic flashbacks, as she describes her temporary refuge in prison, and a convent in Lebanon, before she arrives in Exeter to begin a new life.

In the following interview I ask Faqir about this novel, which was published as The Cry of the Dove in the United States. Faqir explains how she initially resisted the title change, and how she has little control over the appearance of the book which varies widely between countries. She is sharply critical of the book-trade’s tendency to commission and translate texts that perpetuate stereotypes about the Arab world, stating that ‘selection is an act of elimination.’ We discuss how the marketing and sale of anglophone Arab fiction often relies on the circulation of stereotypical images of Arab women, and this raises questions about the lives of books beyond their narratives. Within postcolonial studies there has been a lack of criticism which brings together important questions about material texts with rigorous narrative analysis.(n1) This is particularly urgent in light of the continued focus on ‘Islam’ in current media and government discourse, powerfully critiqued by Edward Said in Covering Islam (1997). The obsessive coverage documented by Said continues to generate stereotypes, obliterate local circumstances and sanction the texts we receive. Images of veils, deserts and forlorn individual females dominate the marketing of recent anglophone Arab literature despite the hugely divergent nature of the narratives. A glance at the work of Leila Aboulela, Ahdaf Soueif and Diana Abu-Jaber, or at the plethora of commercial novels which claim to provide authentic accounts of the suffering Arab or Muslim woman, confirms this. Faqir is keen to challenge such representations, and describes the marketing of her novel as ‘totally Orientalist.’ Her response reminds us of the urgency of maintaining and extending Said’s critique, particularly in light of the commissioning, production and reception of postcolonial art and literature following the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. Many critics have commented on the sudden increase in ‘Arab’ ‘Middle Eastern’ and ‘Islamic’ art and literature following these attacks (n2). Rather than countering the clash of civilisations rhetoric, such work offers a consumable impression of the Arab world which reductively equates ‘Islam,’ ‘Arabs’ and the ‘Middle East.’ Sally Howell and Andrew Shryock shrewdly extend this point in discussing the rapid change in attitudes towards Arab Americans and Islam in Detroit: ‘In the post-9/11 era, transnational ties that connect the U.S. to Arab and Muslim countries will be acceptable only insofar as they strengthen sites of belonging and social reproduction that are located in America (in the form of “ethnic communities”)’ (“Cracking Down on Diaspora” 459). Here, the complex communities and shared histories of ordinary people living in Detroit are occluded as people suddenly become answerable to the blanket categories of ‘Islam’ and ‘Arab.’

Faqir’s comments on the marketing of My Name is Salma reveal how the physical book can similarly be manipulated so that only those transnational aspects that collude with constructed national mythologies are mobilised, obscuring detailed historical and political questions. This constructs boundaries between imagined monolithic cultures, rather than reflecting the reality of the constant dialogue within and between cultures that is reflected by Faqir’s narratives. The discourse of colonial rule, which directly affected Faqir and her family in Jordan, depended upon such petrified cultural motifs and denied the reality of the complex fabric of communities. Disrupting the continued commercial exchange of such motifs in the book trade demands urgent attention in postcolonial studies today.

Claims to indigenous authenticity have been much critiqued in postcolonial studies, but the alternative, towards which Faqir is inclined, is also fraught with ambiguities and contradictions. Whilst Faqir’s critical work and commentary clearly shows her desire to represent Arab women’s writing and rights, she also describes herself in the interview as ‘a cross-cultural, transnational writer par excellence,’ suggesting that she belongs to ‘a rootless multi-cultural community.’ Faqir predicts that ‘thirty years from now the borders between languages will collapse,’ describing an ‘hybridised’ English that might ‘be reduced to a frame or a carrier of other languages and cultures.’ Her views chime with Tim Brennan’s widely cited account of ‘cosmopolitanism’ which endorses ‘the creation of a singularity out of newness, a blending and merging of differences becoming one entity’ (“From Development to Globalization” 130). However, Brennan has convincingly shown how the apparently outward-looking, intercultural cosmopolitanism in fact relies on a privileged position and ‘sprouts from an already existing culture of intellectuals and middle-class travellers, researchers, and businessmen’ (“Development” 130). Faqir is critical of the privilege of ‘affluent exclusive colonial space’ in the interview and deliberately avoids including privileged characters in her work: ‘I haven’t got any characters that are middle class, rich or privileged. That strata or segment of society does not hold my attention.’ Paradoxically, however, Faqir must occupy a privileged position in order to speak out.

Brennan calls for cosmopolitan citizens to be self-critical: a demand that goes beyond self-reflexivity and towards readdressing structural inequalities. This critique ‘begins at home’ and demands more than ‘tolerance and understanding’ (Brennan “At Home in the World” 11), going beyond Nussbaum’s call for ‘empathy.’ Faqir negotiates the tensions between these positions, and whilst she explicitly states that it is important to be self-critical and admits that she walks a ‘tight-rope every day’ in her deep desire to change the Arab world, she also experiences the contradictions inherent in the cosmopolitan position she adopts. Brennan suggests that cosmopolitanism ‘stipulates a theory of world government and world citizenship in which the term’s cultural meaning is carried over to its political one’ (“Development” 130); a displacement that Faqir both embraces and rejects, and which has parallels with the practices following 9/11, highlighted by Howell and Shryock.

Privileging culture in the reception of postcolonial literature can obscure difficult historical and political questions, and also sideline literary analysis in favour of assessments of a work’s cultural ‘accuracy’ in accordance with its author’s cultural heritage. Faqir’s desire to represent female Arab experience sits alongside her refusal of the blanket use of culture in producing stereotypes about Arab women. Faqir suggests that she started the Arab Women Writers series to counter such stereotypes, and as we have seen, she embraces the primacy of culture in cosmopolitanism in order to do this. Whilst her critical work powerfully challenges the rhetoric of Arab woman as victim, the mistreatment of Arab women is also a prominent feature of her fiction, for example with the honour killing in My Name is Salma. When I ask Faqir about this, she stresses the fact that honour crimes are not exclusive to particular cultures, and urges her reader to consider the entirety of the narrative; the majority of which concerns the challenges immigrants face in Britain. In contrast, the marketing of the novel brings the Levant scenes and the honour killing to the fore, and pre-empt textual interpretations. Evaluating Faqir’s narrative in relation to her cultural heritage confuses her critique of a specific familial situation in which a woman is subjugated with the condemnation of an entire culture. This approach situates Faqir’s work as representative of all Arab writing and projects a burden of representation onto her work, as experienced by many postcolonial authors.

Faqir’s eloquent responses shed light on some of the dilemmas faced by postcolonial writers today. Market imperatives demand compromises from authors like Faqir, who must ultimately sell her books. Faqir aims to counter the tendencies of the book trade to appropriate moments from her work whilst refusing to abandon the portrayal of specific instances of oppression. She resists demands for authenticity in Arab women’s writing through a sense of cosmopolitan belonging whilst remaining in solidarity with other Arab writers. She writes against privilege whilst occupying this position in order to speak out. She embraces the crossing of borders whilst inhabiting the ambiguities of this position and negotiating the attached risk of colluding with the global capitalism and imperial expansion that she explicitly resists. The interview reveals the warmth and passion with which Faqir constantly negotiates such tensions, and these dilemmas leave deep imprints on Faqir’s fiction, her readers and her life beyond her writing.

This interview is the culmination of several discussions between myself and Faqir at conferences and seminars in 2009, following which we pursued our correspondence via email.


1. RB: I want to ask you a bit about your physical relationship with Jordan where you were born. You have lived in Britain for 25 years, and write mainly in English.  Your novels have been translated and published internationally, particularly your most recent novel, My Name is Salma, which has been published in 16 countries and translated into 13 languages. I wonder how far you consider yourself an ‘international’ author, and how important you feel it is to be read in Jordan?

FF: I was born and brought up in Amman in Jordan and although I don’t physically live there, Jordan is part of my mental landscape. I was born in the year of independence from the British and grew up in humble but vibrant East Amman.  One of my earliest memories is of hills covered with wheat and a large English club nearby, with a wire fence, dogs, guards and gardens. The native Jordanians were not allowed to enter the club and that made it more alluring and mysterious. We tried to sneak in many times, but the guard caught us and the boys were beaten with a stick. This image of an affluent, exclusive colonial space has remained with me and keeps reappearing in my writing. I also lived with the Bedouins who were semi-nomadic then, herding the goats and sheep, reaping crops, and travelling to the wheat threshing floor. Pillars of Salt (1996) was written to document that magical landscape and preserve the Bedouins’ noble way of life which was fast disappearing. The term ‘international writer’ is abstract, and means little to me while actually writing. It is still difficult to grasp the fact that people are reading my fiction in (soon to be) fourteen languages. And yes, it is very important to me to be read in Jordan. The Arabic translation of My Name is Salma is available there now and I do hope that it will be picked up and engaged with.

2. RB: In the past you have said that publishers often demand a particular type of literary aesthetic from Arab writers; which translates into a demand for ‘autobiographical’ and realist texts which portray women as victims, and can be marketed in the vein of Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero (1975). I wonder if you can comment on Arab women’s writing and literary form, and the limitations that you believe are imposed by publishers, politics and the marketing of literary texts. How far do you think that literary institutions shape the actual language and texts that anglophone readers receive?

FF: Arab women writers today write in a myriad of genres and forms, from social realism through to postmodernism. However, the texts that get commissioned mainly portray Arab women as victims or oppressed, or they are marketed as such. There is no doubt that the ‘gate-keepers’ de-select complex texts by Arabs. The Arab Women Writers series, which I edited, was an attempt to bring important and sophisticated novels to the attention of anglophone western readers. That said, things have improved recently with the ‘Arab Booker’ and the many book fairs in the Arab world. Arab authors both in the west and the Arab world itself are gradually being studied more seriously.

3. RB: I wonder if we can turn specifically to your most recent novel, My Name is Salma. The novel’s cover varies hugely between the different countries in which it has been published: from the minimalist French cover, to the orientalist black niqab of the Romanian edition, and the reclining sensual young woman adorning the Indonesian cover. Can you comment on your perception of the marketing of this novel by different publishers in the various national contexts? Do you think the material appearance of the book and its content work together differently in different national contexts? Do you think these disparities serve particular national agendas?

FF: I am sure that national contexts impose their own dynamics on marketing. But preconceived ideas about the Arab world and Arab women also come to the surface. There is certainly a discrepancy between the content of my novel and its covers. On the cover of most editions Salma has a veil, except in Indonesia, France and Italy, even though in the book she takes it off. The novel was published with the title, The Cry of the Dove, in the United States, and this has a totally covered woman on the cover in the courtyard of a mosque. Totally Orientalist. If you look at the cover of Leila Aboulela’s Minaret (2005); a serious text, regardless of my reservations about the Islamic world vision it propagates, you will see that the novel was reduced, exoticised, cliché-ed. I have little control over covers and most of the time I do not approve them before they get printed.

4. RB: What are your thoughts on the fact that the novel was published with a different title in the United States?

FF: We came up about fifteen titles, but my British and American publishers could not agree on one. I had two options: either reject the titles or break my contract with the American publisher. I grudgingly agreed because I wanted to be on Grove’s list, a respectable publisher. The decision complicated my life and website. I will never agree to something like this again.

5. RB: You have talked in the past about your admiration for the magnificent poet, Mahmoud Darwish, arguably the most influential and recognised Palestinian poet and author in the world; and in particular, your admiration for the beauty of his work combined with his political commitment. How do you feel that politics and aesthetics work in your novels? Do you feel a ‘burden of responsibility’ as an Arab writer, and do your political commitments shape your novels? What do you think about the possibility of ‘art for art’s sake?’

FF: When political views are repressed and you live under a monolithic, monological autocracy, literature becomes an outlet for expressing such views. The late Palestinian author Emil Habibi propagated his Marxist views in his fiction and in his later years lamented that fact. If you are born in an area of conflict, writing ‘art for art’s sake’ becomes a luxury. However, my literary journey shows how writing political fiction can also change. I started with Nisanit (1987), a howl from the heart; raw, close to reality and unsophisticated perhaps. In Pillars of Salt, I moved on to explore imperialism and sexual politics and used the oral tradition and the tradition of travel writing. In My Name is Salma, a novel about the constraints of the human condition, migration and racism, I began exploring lyricism and pace, and used minute descriptions of daily life to construct a whole. All my novels are socio-political, but I hope the tone, style and structure have evolved. In other words, novels are windows to the world; they humanise, bring injustice to the readers’ attention, and act as cultural bridges. In My Name is Salma I have no ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies.’’ In fact, all of the characters are tragic figures, even the English landlady Elizabeth who mistreats Salma. When we discover what Elizabeth has lived through and survived we forgive her excesses. If the discourse in the metropolis aims to de-humanise Arabs and make them disappear in order to justify ‘collateral damage,’ my fiction and writing aims to humanise not only the Arabs, but the English, the Americans, the Indians etc. It is harder, perhaps, to shoot someone you know very well. What is important is to present the case gently, subtly and without any anger or self-righteousness.

6. RB: Turning to literary works written in Arabic, I wonder if you can comment upon the trends you observe in the Arabic literary works that are translated into English. Do you think the work that is translated reflects the wider body of contemporary literature being written in Arabic at the moment?

FF: Selection is an act of elimination. Very few Arabic books get translated into English and most them confirm stereotypes about the Arabs. That is why Banipal must be commended for the work they are doing. They translate a wide variety of writings from the Arab world.

7. RB: You mentioned your use of oral traditions in Pillars of Salt. To what extent do oral traditions of Arab culture and Arab literary traditions influence your work?

FF: The oral tradition is part of my cultural residue. I used it extensively in Pillars of Salt for a number of reasons. I wanted to show how traditions are used to justify patriarchy, and to show that the narrative of the Storyteller is in conflict with the narrative of the women. I also wanted to highlight the gender difference between the oral tales of men and women. The strategies, techniques and outcomes of the tales are gender-specific. The literary traditions I draw on are varied. My mind speaks English but my heart speaks Arabic. I was brought up partly with the Bedouins and their simple harmonious and noble way of living tugs me back, but to survive in a modern western world I had to learn how to navigate an urban jungle. When I first arrived in Britain I examined and re-examined my sense of belonging, adjusted the mirror and drove on exploring a new map. Now I don’t subject myself to such inquisitions. I am a cross-cultural, transnational writer par excellence; I cross borders, languages, cultures and literary traditions in a blink. I belong to a rootless multi-cultural community that feeds on blogs from Iraq, books published in America, French philosophers, and, of course, Latin American novelists. Perhaps this community can only exist and communicate in cyberspace. It is a precarious place to be, but quite exciting.

8. RB: It is interesting that you say that English is the language of your mind. You have spoken in the past about using English to bring together different voices, cultures and contexts. Do you consider English to have the potential to be a ‘hybrid’ and ‘international’ language, which can bring together many languages and cultures?

FF: The English language is being hybridised. Writers of many ethnicities use it, bringing in their distinct cultural flavours. There is now ‘Indian English.’ Soon there will be Arabic English. I think thirty years from now the borders between languages will collapse. Lebanese-born writer, Rawi Hage’s recent novel, Cockroach (2008), uses English, Arabic and French – and the reader copes. Perhaps English will be reduced to a frame or a carrier of other languages and cultures.

9. RB: In your introduction to Liana Badr’s The Eye of the Mirror, a novel that is set during the 1975-6 siege and subsequent massacre at the Tal el-Zaater Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, you suggest that Badr ‘has held onto the threads of a narrative weaving through the chaos,’ and ‘what is left to her and other women writers is to create narratives and write an alternate history.’ How far do you see your role as preserving or re-presenting parts of history that might be obscured by the larger ‘official’ narratives? I am thinking particularly of your first novel Nisanit, but also of your later fiction and work with the Arab Women Writers series.

FF: The aim is to create an alternative history to the official one. To excavate an alternative truth. To tune the ear to the voices that sing at a different frequency. To recover what is ‘written in white ink’ in the western context and excavate what was repressed in the Arab context. The writers in the Arab Women Writers series were not well-known when I chose their texts; they were off the radar. I wanted to put their texts under the spotlight.

10. RB: In your introduction to Badr’s novel you also write, ‘Arab women are generally treated as a minority in most Arab countries. They feel invisible, misrepresented and reduced,’ and talk of the ‘double veil of gender and culture’ that ‘most westerners’ perceive Arab women to be behind. The (mis)treatment of Arab women is also a prominent feature of much of your fiction. However, although the Arab Women Writers series was started to redress the lack of interaction with Arab culture and to counter westerners’ stereotypical images of Arab women’s lives, the oppression of women is also a prominent western stereotype of Arab cultures, as critics like Lila Abu-Lughod sharply point out; for example, in “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?”. How would you respond to the critique of perpetuating Orientalist stereotypes about the Arab oppression of women, particularly in relation to My Name is Salma’s plot of the honour killing (which often holds an exoticised place in the Orientalist imagination)?

FF: Honour crimes happen in many countries and to associate them with the Arab world is unfair. Jordan must not be penalised for documenting the crimes and fighting them – it must be encouraged. My students looked for honour crimes incidents and they found them in Sweden, the UK, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and many other countries. So the problem cannot be dismissed as an Arab Muslim problem. Christian women get killed in so-called ‘honour crimes’. So I wanted to open up the debate and widen it. It is important to be self-critical. There will be no reform without that. Yet the way issues are tackled is important. I am not an Orientalist or an Islam basher. I write about the Arab world because I love it and because I have a deep desire to change it for the better. Perhaps it is all about motivation. Are you maliciously misrepresenting the Arabs or are you driven by a desire for change? I am aware of the pitfalls and I walk that tight-rope every day.

It is also important to note that My Name is Salma is partly about honour crimes but mainly about the immigrant experience in Britain today. Salma is torn between her past, in the idyllic rural village, and her present in England; between the Arab and English cultures. The form of the novel reflects Salma’s conflict. She is lonely and linguistically and culturally unprepared to face the west. She has a huge legacy that pulls her back. There is so much to love and deplore about both cultures. The novel hopefully holds a mirror to Arab and British societies and is equally critical of them.

11. RB: You have written many critical essays for newspapers and literary publications, and edited and translated many works. You are also passionately involved in human right’s work. Can you comment on the relationship between your critical work and your creative writing?

FF: Naturally, my creative writing feeds on my academic work. I have written extensively about honour crimes, democracy and human rights. Many of the themes found their way into the fiction: the violation of human rights in Nisanit, gender equality and misrepresentation in Pillars of Salt, and honour crimes and the distortion of images of Arabs in the media in My Name is Salma. The questions that haunt are the same whether in my critical work or my writing.

12. RB: Imprisonment is a theme that seems to ‘haunt’ most of your literary work, and the portrayal of incarceration is not limited by national context. For example, in your novel Pillars of Salt, two women are confined in a mental institution in Jordan during and after the British mandate, whereas My Name is Salma details the imprisonment of Salma and other women in the Levant and in a port detention centre in Britain. Do you see the incarceration of women as a trans-cultural, global issue, and can you comment on its significant presence in your work?

FF: For much of my childhood, I felt that I was living in a prison, and likewise when I got married. My father’s political views and his desire for change landed him in prison in 1969. You can see imprisonment, metaphorical and literal, everywhere in my work. I based part of Nisanit on my father’s story. My mother never allowed us to visit our father because she didn’t want to expose us to that kind of experience. But I imagined that space; it became part of my mental landscape.

In fact, I see every human being, regardless of gender, as disempowered somehow. There is always a challenge and there is always something that’s restricting you. My characters tend to be caught in a structure or a web. Characters are the victims of history, geography and politics in Nisanit. In My Name is Salma, Salma has done something she’s not supposed to do, although it is in harmony with her nature. She just happened to be born in a village where the rules are strict, so she has to be punished. And then you have Liz [My Name is Salma], who’s English, and again, the victim of a long history: she was not allowed to get married to the Indian man she was in love with. Another power structure pertains in that case – a class structure. Liz is located in a hierarchy that prevents her from actualising herself. My characters are always victims of the human condition – always confined.

13. RB: Finally, can you say something about what you are involved in writing now, or where you plan to go with your writing?

FF: The “Prologue” of my new novel Al-Qaeda’s Kitchen, which I have just finished, has been published by Weber studies. It’s now online and won Dr. Neila C. Seshachari’s Fiction Award for 2009. The novel is about a group of people living in a block of flats in London. The whole thing started with a newspaper article saying that Abu Hamza lived in a council house in Hammersmith. I said to my husband, “I have to find that house.” We spent days walking the streets and eventually we found it, but then I saw another building perhaps full of immigrants. I took photographs of it. I’d just read Alaa’ Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building and Manil Suri’s The Death of Vishnu – my novel was born. I wanted to imagine the lives of a group of Arab immigrants in that building, their histories and interactions in a postcolonial, multi-ethnic diverse London. Characters are very low on the social scale – down-and-outs. I haven’t got any characters that are middle class, rich or privileged. That strata or segment of society does not hold my attention.

In Al-Qaeda’s Kitchen, the group of immigrants work around the clock to make ends meet. And they all have a dark secret – they are a bunch of perpetrators/victims living bang in the middle of London.  But who stabbed to death the shady figure in flat number two? The novel features love, violence, self-hate and guilt, the pursuit of redemption, compassion, humour and forgiveness. There is a potential Al-Qaeda recruit. But things are not what they seem and there are many surprises along the way. Perhaps the building, where multicultural Britain is conversing, is a microcosm.  While writing this novel, I realised that the narrative of the two young Arab immigrants was incomplete, which prompted a deeper look into the motives and recruitment methods of Al-Qaeda. It also became necessary to study and write-in the history of Arab Afghanis; fighters of Arab ethnicity who first joined the Taliban in their campaign against the Russians, and later on Al-Qaeda. So my fifth novel, My Father the Fundamentalist, was born.

I will write this novel as an attempt to understand and perhaps forgive my father, who is a reluctant tyrant. He was a leading member of the outlawed Hizbul Tahrir, something I never understood. My father, who was busy fighting for his cause and was absent most of my childhood and adulthood, controlled our lives and was the reason behind the breakdown of most of my eight brothers and sisters. As my father gets older the urge to explore his decisions and understand him becomes stronger. I shall revert back to the first-person narration used in My Name is Salma to follow the characters closely and compile first-hand accounts of pivotal points in the history of the war in Afghanistan and the war on terror here in the UK. The aim is to produce an antidote to the so-called ‘clash of civilisations’ by contextualising, historicising and explaining terrorism and how Britain responds to it.


(1) Notable exceptions include Andrew van der Vlies’ valuable work on the impact of literary institutions on South African literature, and articles in his edited special issue of English Studies in Africa (2004). Wasafiri’s special issue, ‘The Book in the World’ (2007) also explores these issues. Arab literature is often neglected in postcolonial studies. However, the recent edited collection, Arab Voices in Diaspora (2009), provides a good overview, and Geoffrey Nash’s work is very useful.

(2) Said’s account remains one of the most relevant and pointed critiques. Jessica Winegar argues that the increased commissioning of ‘Middle Eastern’ art in the US since 9/11 is motivated by a universalising belief in the capacity of art to build bridges between cultures (“Humanity” 653). Sally Howell and Andrew Shryock suggest that the privileging of culture in the post-9/11 attitudes to American Arabs solidifies a particular notion of ‘cultural’ belonging (“Cracking”). Contributors to the special issue of New Formations, ‘After Iraq,’ provide a wider perspective, moving the focus away from ‘9/11’ and towards ‘Iraq’: suggesting that ‘postcolonial studies must change not because the world has changed but because ‘Iraq’ shows that, in quite substantial ways, it has not changed’ (Gopal and Lazarus, 1).


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Al Aswany, Alaa’. The Yacoubian Building. [Imārat Ya‘qūbiyān]. 2002. Trans. Humphrey Davies. Cairo; New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2004. 

Al Maleh, Layla, ed. Arab Voices in Diaspora: Critical Perspectives on Anglophone Arab Literature. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009. Print.

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—. “From Development to Globalization: Postcolonial Studies and Globalization Theory.” Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies. Ed. Neil Lazarus. Cambridge: CUP, 2004: 120–138.  Print.

El Saadawi, Nawal. Woman at Point Zero. 1975. Trans. Sherif Hetata. London: Zed Books, 1983. Print.

Faqir, Fadia. The Cry of the Dove. New York: Black Cat, 2007.

—. “Introduction.” The Eye of the Mirror. Liana Badr. Reading, UK: Garnet Publishing (Arab Women Writers Series), 1995, v–x. Print.

—. My Name is Salma. London: Doubleday, 2007. Print.

—. Nisanit. Henley-on-Thames: Ellis, 1987. Print.

—. Pillars of Salt. London: Quartet, 1996. Print.

—. “Prelude: Things Rank.” Al-Qaeda’s Kitchen. Weber 25.1 (2008): n. pag. Web. 8 Nov. 2010. <;.

Fraser, Robert and Susheila Nasta, eds. Wasafiri: The Book in the World 52 (2007). Print.

Gopal, Priyamvada and Neil Lazarus, eds. New Formations: Postcolonial Studies After the Invasion of Iraq 59 (2006). Print.

Hage, Rawi. Cockroach. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2008. Print.

Howell, Sally and Andrew Shryock. “Cracking Down on Diaspora: Arab Detroit and America’s “War on Terror”.” Anthropological Quarterly 76.3 (2003): 443–462.

Nash, Geoffrey. The Anglo-Arab Encounter: Fiction and Autobiography by Arab Writers in English. Bern; Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007. Print.

Nussbaum, Martha C. Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 1995.

Said, Edward. Covering Islam. London: Vintage, 1997.

Suri, Manil. The Death of Vishnu. London: Bloomsbury, 2001. Print.

Winegar, Jessica. “The Humanity Game: Art, Islam, and the War on Terror.” Anthropological Quarterly 81.3 (2008): 651–681. Print.

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1 Comment

  1. Arab Writers Union conference is a good initiative by Arab officials to promote Arab literary work. It’s a best platform where cultural personalities can gather and such events encourage cultural and poetic events in the country.


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