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Modern Arab American Fiction

A Reader's Guide

Steven Salaita

Publication Year: 2011

Exploring the works of such best-selling authors as Rabih Alameddine, Mohja Kahf, Laila Halaby, Diana Abu-Jaber, Alicia Erian, and Randa Jarrar, Salaita highlights the development of each author’s writing and how each has influenced Arab American fiction. He examines common themes including the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Lebanese Civil War of 1975–90, the representation and practice of Islam in the United States, social issues such as gender and national identity in Arab cultures, and the various identities that come with being Arab American. Combining the accessibility of a primer with in-depth critical analysis, Modern Arab American Fiction is suitable for a broad audience, those unfamiliar with the subject area, as well as scholars of the literature.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-10

In addition to being a user-friendly analysis of modern Arab American fiction, this book is something of a corrective for bad luck. This unusual mission is a selfish one. I do not intend for the book to correct your bad luck. I am not quite so arrogant, though I would be happy if it manages to improve your fortunes somehow. ...

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2. Uses of the Lebanese Civil War in Arab American Fiction: Etel Adnan, Rawi Hage, Patricia Sarrafi an Ward

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pp. 11-31

At its most basic level , the Lebanese Civil War pitted Christians against Muslims. (Lebanon has the highest percentage of Christians in the Arab world, followed by Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. Arab Christians have been a part of the Arab world for more than two thousand years.) The war specifically involved ...

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3. Exploring Islam(s) in America: Mohja Kahf

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pp. 32-41

In the late 1990s, the distinguished scholar Mohja Kahf turned to creative writing, publishing the well-received poetry collection Letters from Scheherazad. A few years later, in 2006, Kahf released her first novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, which quickly went on to become one of the most critically and commercially ...

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4. Sex, Violence, and Storytelling: Rabih Alameddine

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pp. 42-59

Based on a combination of critical and commercial success, Rabih Alameddine, of Lebanese Druze background, is the preeminent Arab American novelist today. (The Druze are a religious minority in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.) His three novels—Koolaids: The Art of War, I, the Divine: A Novel in First Chapters, ...

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5. The Eternity of Immigration: Arab American Short Story Collections (Joseph Geha, Frances Khirallah Noble, Evelyn Shakir, Susan Muaddi Darraj)

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pp. 60-78

In the past twenty years, a number of short story collections by Arab American authors have been published. I take a look at four of those collections here: Joseph Geha’s Through and Through: Toledo Stories; Frances Khirallah Noble’s The Situe Stories; Evelyn Shakir’s Remember Me to Lebanon; ...

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6. Promised Lands and Unfulfilled Promises: Laila Halaby

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pp. 79-95

Laila Halaby has written two novels, West of the Jordan and Once in a Promised Land, that have been well received critically and have earned a steady readership. Both novels focus on a range of sociopolitical issues involving Arab American identity, civil liberties, racism and xenophobia, and the effects of ...

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7. Crescent Moons, Jazz Music, and Feral Ethnicity: Diana Abu-Jaber

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pp. 96-111

Diana Abu-Jaber is one of the preeminent Arab American writers today. Her first novel, Arabian Jazz (1993), was the first work of modern Arab American fiction to reach a wide critical and commercial audience. She has subsequently built on her early success with Crescent and Origin as well as with a memoir, ...

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8. From the Maghreb to the American Mainstream: Writers of North African Origin (Anouar Majid, Laila Lalami, Samia Serageldin)

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pp. 112-124

The Arab world is broken into two broad regions: the Middle East, also known as the Near East, West Asia, and the Mashreq, which often is a synecdoche for the entire Arab world (a part representing the whole); and North Africa, also known as the Maghreb, which includes the Arab world’s most populous ...

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9. Potpourri: Alicia Erian, Randa Jarrar, Susan Abulhawa

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pp. 125-142

The title to this chapter is not a cop-out, really, but it seems like one because in studying Alicia Erian, Randa Jarrar, and Susan Abulhawa I tried and tried but could not find a common theme that might lend itself to a chapter title. Potpourri is not merely a default choice, but an accurate descriptor of the three ...


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pp. 143-146

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 147-150


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pp. 151-152


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pp. 153-154

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651048
E-ISBN-10: 081565104X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632771
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632770

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 759158758
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Modern Arab American Fiction

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Arabs in literature.
  • American fiction -- Arab American authors -- History and criticism.
  • American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Arab Americans in literature.
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