Abstract

Despite the renewed interest in Arabic writing following Naguib Mahfouz's winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the war on terror, and the US invasion of Iraq, texts by Arab authors are surprisingly absent from the major anthologies and textbooks of postcolonial and world literature in English. Postcolonial literature has been too narrowly defined so that it refers to Commonwealth literature, excluding Arabic writing altogether, whether it be Arabic fiction in English or Arabic fiction in English translation. It is perhaps even more troubling that anthologies of world literature, which include many works in translation, tend to exclude or marginalize Arab writing. Drawing from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's statement that "such slips become the rule rather than the exception in less careful hands" (1989, 272) and from the relevant ideas of other key thinkers (such as Edward Said, Roger Allen, Arif Dirlik, Waïl Hassan, and Slavoj Žižek), I explore whether such exclusions are painted with orientalist and racist attitudes toward Arabic writing. I conclude with suggestions on how teachers of world literature today can partially overcome the problems in such useful and indispensable textbooks and anthologies. The article asks whether Arabic writing in English can be given no more and no less than the level of attention other Englishes enjoy in our global village today.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 130-145
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-14
Open Access
No
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