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Minorities in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel

Mary Youssef

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Identifies an emerging genre within the contemporary Egyptian novel that reflects a new consciousness

  • Includes case studies of the novels of 8 authors: Idris ᶜAli, Bahaᵓ Ṭahir, ᶜAlaᵓ al-Aswani, Yusuf Zaydan, Muᶜtazz Futayha, Ashraf al-Khumaysi and Miral al-Tahawi
  • Shows how these novels have taken on a mediatory role in formalising and articulating their historical moment
  • Critically examines the recent developments within the Egyptian literary and socio-cultural arenas

During colonial times the Egyptian novel invoked a sovereign nation-state and basked in its perceived unity. After independence the novel began to profess disenchantment with state practices and unequal class and gender relations, but did not disrupt the nation’s imagined homogeneity. The twenty-first-century Egyptian novel, by contrast, shatters this singular view, with the rise of a new consciousness that presents Egypt as fundamentally diverse. This new consciousness responds to discourses of difference and practices of differentiation within the contexts of race, religion, class, gender, sexuality and language. It also heralds the cacophony of voices that collectively cried for social justice from Tahrir Square. Through a robust analysis of several ‘new-consciousness’ novels by award winning authors the book highlights their unconventional, yet coherent undertakings to foreground the marginal experiences of the Nubian, Amazigh, Bedouin, Coptic, Jewish, women and sexual minority populations in Egypt.



Note on Transliteration and Translation

Introduction: Historical Transformations: Framing a New Consciousness in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel

Chapter 1: History and Representation of Otherness in ᶜAli Idris’s al-Nubi and Bahaᵓ Tahir’s Wahat al-ghurub

Chapter 2: Reading Cosmopolitanism in Yusuf Zaydan’s Azazeel and Muᶜtazz Futayha’s Akhir yahud al-iskandariyya

Chapter 3: The Irrecuperable Heterogeneity of the Present in ᶜAlaᵓ al-Aswani’s The Yacoubian Building and Chicago

Chapter 4: Heart Deserts, Memory and Myth between Life and Death in Asharaf al-Khumaysi’s Manafi al-rabb and Miral al-Tahawi’s The Tent

Epilogue: New Directions

About the Author

Mary Youssef is Assistant Professor of Arabic in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton. She has published an article in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics.

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