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Far from offering another study that bemoans Arab women’s repression and veiling, Anxiety of Erasure looks at Arab women writers living in the diaspora who have translated their experiences into a productive and creative force. In this book, Al-Samman articulates the therapeutic effects of revisiting forgotten histories and of activating two cultural tropes: that of the maw’udah (buried female infant) and that of Shahrazad in the process of revolutionary change. She asks what it means to develop a national, gendered consciousness from diasporic locals while staying committed to the homeland.Book News
Al-Samman presents close readings of the fiction of five prominent authors whose works span over half a century and define the current status of Arab diaspora studies—Ghada al-Samman, Hanan al-Shaykh, Hamida al-Na‘na‘, Hoda Barakat, Samar Yazbek, and Salwa al-Neimi. Exploring the journeys in time and space undertaken by these women, Anxiety of Erasure shines a light on the ways in which writers remain participants in their homelands’ intellectual lives, asserting both the traumatic and the triumphant aspects of diaspora. The result is a nuanced Arab women’s poetic that celebrates rootlessness and rootedness, autonomy and belonging.
This study analyzes the writings of Ghada al-Samman, Hanan al-Shaykh, Hamida al-Na'na', Hoda Barakat, Samar Yazbek, and Salwa al-Neimi, Arab women writers who experienced the trauma of authoritarian regimes in Syria and the Lebanese Civil War, and lived as diasporic citizens in Europe and North and South America. It explores the motifs of maw'udah (the female infant burial motif) and the narrator Shahrazad in their literature, focusing on the role of cultural conflict and resolution in Arab women's erasure and diasporic Arab women's perception of themselves in Western and Eastern terms. It considers cultural discourses of women's bodies, identity, and subjectivity; their roles as literary women and voices; and nation and tradition as a woman. It discusses how Arab diaspora women writers have redefined Shahrazad's role, traumatic recollections in their literature, the maternal stories presented in autobiographies, their fantasy fiction, the role of women in national construction, the fraternal dynamics of power, and identity renunciation and reclamation in their texts, which include Al-Riwayah al-Mustahilah (The Impossible Novel), The Locust and the Bird, The Square Moon, A Masquerade for the Dead, The Homeland, The Tiller of Waters, Disciples of Passion, The Stone of Laughter, My Master and My Lover, Only in London, The Book of Secrets, and The Proof of Honey. Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)