The story of the Arabic novel is itself a sort of foundational fiction. In the rich history of Arabic letters, how might one narrate the conditions of this distinctive mode of narration? Is the novel an imperial literary form whose history in the Arab world is part of the negotiation, translation, or indigenization of models from afar? Or is the novel indebted to traditions already within the history of Arabic storytelling, transmuted and returned in a global detour? Torn between accounts of local import and global export, answers to these questions have forged a genre of storytelling all its own, evident perhaps most prominently in the work of 'Abd al-Muhsin Taha Badr, Roger Allen, Sabry Hafez, and Matti Moosa, all of whom offer a story of stories to account for the rise of the modern Arabic novel.1 In a plotline that often culminates with the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Naguib Mahfouz in 1988, the Arabic novel is often understood as part of a longue durée of Arab literary history, one whose origins bespeak a longstanding interplay between languages and cultures.


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pp. 281-298
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