The Experimental Arabic Novel

Postcolonial Literary Modernism in the Levant

By Stefan G. Meyer

Subjects: Arab Literature
Series: SUNY series in Middle Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780791447345, 341 pages, November 2000
Hardcover : 9780791447338, 341 pages, November 2000

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Table of contents

Arabic Transliteration Symbols
Glossaries of Arabic Names

Introduction: The Experimental Arabic Novel and Comparative Modernisms

1. Modernist Ambivalence and the Beginnings of Narrative Experimentation

Existentialism and the Fragmentation of Narrative Voice
The Defamiliarization of Narrative
The Strategy of Ironic Distance

2. Recovering the Past: The "Arabization" of the Novel

Cultural and Historical Counternarrative: Abdelrahman Munif
Magical Realism: Salim Barakat
Folk Narrative and Subjective Expression

3. Rediscovering the Present: The Lebanese Civil War

Fragmented Reportage: Ghada Samman
The Patchwork Novel: Elias Khoury
The Dynamics of War and Sexuality
The Novel of Interior Situations

4. Redefining the Future: Questions of Artistic Choice

The "Mirage of Language" and the "Dust of Life"
The Conflict between Political and Artistic Commitment
The Limits of Masculine Perspective
The Dialectical Solution
Mimicking Postmodernity

Conclusion: The Experimental Arabic Novel and Postmodern Discourse


Traces the development of the modern Arabic novel from the 1960s to the present.


The Experimental Arabic Novel places the modern and contemporary Arabic novel in the context of the modernist-postmodern culture debate in the West. Tracing the development of experimentalism in the modern Arabic novel from the 1960s to the present, Meyer argues that it is possible to speak of distinct literary modernisms that have each evolved with a different set of characteristics, depending upon the nature of their historical antecedents. This approach to postcolonial literature offers a way to compare and contrast it meaningfully with Western literature without relying on inherently Western literary models.

Stefan G. Meyer teaches at Siena Heights University.


"This book has a great deal to offer, particularly at a time when Arab-Islamic cultures are coming under close scrutiny by the media and the public at large." — Comparative Literature Studies

"…a significant book for Middle East and comparative literature collections." — CHOICE

"An exceptionally deep analysis of modernist developments in the Arabic novel of the Levant, evaluating its most recent experimental phase and clarifying the debate about modernism and postmodernism in relation to it among Arab critics, theoreticians, and others." — Issa J. Boullata, author of Trends and Issues in Contemporary Arab Thought

"The issues raised have been tackled by leading scholars in the field, but only in piecemeal fashion. The global view attempted here is unprecedented and illuminating." — Pierre Cachia, author of An Overview of Modern Arabic Literature