Anxiety of Erasure
Trauma, Authorship, and the Diaspora in Arab Women’s Writings
"An important, alert voice of literary criticism on Arab women’s writing, with a scope that encompasses pre-modern not just contemporary work, and pays attention to roots and literary genealogy, giving it a depth that many who look only at modern Arab women’s writing don’t have, and her work matters to me, and to the research of my students."—Mohja Kahf, author of The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf: A Novel
"Anxiety of Erasure marks a step forward in feminist critique of
Arab women’s writings. In juxtaposing the traumas of wa’d, or
pre-Islamic female infanticide, with the Lebanese Civil War, al-Samman has linked Arab women’s erasure, and especially fear of literary erasure, across time. Her close readings of these novels
and short stories are original and perceptive, suggesting a novel
approach to Arab women writers and diaspora as a cosmopolitan
site of literary production."—miriam cooke, professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies, Duke University
"Al-Samman’s analysis is lucid and textually rich. . . . A vital contribution
to the understudied field of Arab women’s narrative."—Muhsin al-Musawi, professor of comparative and Arabic studies,Columbia University
Hanadi Al-Samman is associate professor of Arabic language and literature in the Department
of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia.
Book Description »[Close »]
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.
Al-Samman presents close readings of the fiction of six 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.
View other series books on Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East
6 x 9, 320 pages, notes, bibliography, index