This chapter focuses on the development of the novel genre in Yemen. The novelistic form has taken a relatively long time to emerge in Yemen, but since 1992 Yemeni writers have produced a number of remarkable novels and the pace of publishing has increased. In addition, scholarly criticism of Yemeni fiction as a distinctive regional tradition has gotten well underway within the last decade. This chapter begins with an overview of the beginnings of the Yemeni novel before turning to works published from the revolution to unification (1962–1990), including historical novels. It also considers novels published from unification to the present, noting that Yemeni authors through the years have tackled a range of themes, including emigration, exile, racism, Muslim-Jewish relations, and cultural pluralism.
Women’s engagement in producing the early Arabic novel goes beyond authorship: it involves readership, girls’ education, venues, sensitivities, and gender difference as a topic in public discourse. Fiction became one of several genres for articulating female views of self and society amidst the stresses of late colonial modernity. This chapter first considers the venues where women’s fiction was produced and marketed, along with debates over the projected effects of fiction reading and the approach adopted by the first generation of Arab women novelists. It then discusses how women gained experience at fiction writing through translation-adaptation before turning to novels that focus on gender politics and the love plot. It also highlights the work of ‘Afīfa Karam to emphasize the ambiguities or tensions of early Arabic novels as women authors sought to balance gender expectations with the era’s discourses of domestic duty.
Carol N. Fadda
This chapter discusses the history of the Arab American novel, which dates back to the early part of the twentieth century. Since the 1990s, the genre has been flourishing at a rapid pace. Today, there are roughly 3.6 million Arab Americans in the United States, many of whom come from the Levant area. After providing a brief historical background on Arab immigration, the chapter traces the development of the Arab American novel during the three main literary periods: early twentieth century, 1930s–1960s, and late 1960s/early 1970s–the present. It cites novels that portray border crossings and transnational mobility among multiple Arab and US locations, as well as works that tackle anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia before and after 9/11.
This chapter focuses on the development of the novel genre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It begins with a background on the founding of the Union and the beginnings of Emirati literature, including the novel, and continues with a discussion of novels produced in the first three decades of the UAE. The chapter then shows that the Emirati novel began to take a new, bolder, and more experimental turn during the first decade of the new millennium, citing works that primarily tackle issues related to women’s status in society. It also considers trends in the novel genre since 2010, a period of transition for the Emirati novel.
This chapter focuses on the development of the novel genre in Tunisia. In 1881, Tunisia was transferred from Ottoman rule to French Protectorate, with important implications for the country linguistically and culturally. The difficulties of publishing and the development of nationalism under colonial rule influenced linguistic choices as well as the themes of the novels produced. In the post-independence era, nationalism, secularism, women’s rights, and patriotism became the themes of Tunisian literature in both Arabic and French. Censorship continued to be an issue for writers. This chapter examines the beginnings of the Arabic novel in Tunisia and considers works by Arabophone women writers. Finally, it looks at a number of Francophone novels, as well as novels published after the 2011 revolution.
This chapter examines translations and adaptations of the European novel into Arabic during the period 1835–1925. More specifically, it considers the ways in which the novel and its translation into Arabic drew on and transformed much older forms of local, popular narrative knowledge that previously had been beyond the reach of authorizing discourses and structures. The chapter begins with a discussion of works of translated fiction that were published serially in journals and periodicals as part of the flowering of the periodical press. It then looks at the emergence of unattributed and falsely attributed translations, or what scholars of translation studies call pseudo-translations, before turning to Arabic novels that show how adaptations of the mysteries genre spoke directly to a local and contemporary social imaginary. The chapter also explores the relationship between fiction adaptation and the medieval Arab storytelling tradition.
Waïl S. Hassan
This chapter traces the genealogy of the Arabic theory of novel to its English sources, which it locates in the context of twentieth-century European theories of the novel. It first considers how the novel emerged as the premier genre of modern Arabic literature, then discusses its modernity as well as its continuity with the narrative genres of classical and post-classical Arabic. It examines the dominant account of the “rise” of the Arabic novel by focusing on ‘Abd al-Muḥsin Ṭāha Badr’s 1963 study Taṭawwur al-riwāya al-‘arabiyya al-ḥadītha fī Miṣr (1870–1938) (The Development of the Modern Arabic Novel in Egypt, 1870–1938). It also explores the paradigms of rupture and continuity that can be identified with restrictive and inclusive theories of the novel, respectively. Finally, the chapter critiques what it describes as a flawed historiography and proposes an alternative theory of the Arabic novel.
Richard van Leeuwen
This chapter examines the influence of Alf layla wa layla (A Thousand and One Nights), the ingenious Arabic cycle of stories, on the development of the novel as a literary genre. It shows that the Nights helped shape the European novel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The chapter first explains how the French translation of the Nights and its popularity in Europe led to its incorporation in world literature, creating an enduring taste for “Orientalism” in many forms. It then considers how the Nights became integrated in modern Arabic literature and how Arabic novels inspired by it were used to criticize social conditions, dictatorial authority, and the lack of freedom of expression. It also discusses the Nights as a source of innovation for the trend of magical realism, as well as its role in the interaction between the Arab world and the West.
This chapter examines the origins of the novel genre in Syria. Approximately eighteen novels by “Syrians” were published between 1865 and the 1930s, but only a limited number would have a significant influence in subsequent decades. In the 1930s, literary histories described an emerging “new generation” and the beginnings of a modern literary movement in the novel and the short story, and during the 1950s the practice of novel writing took on a truly meaningful proportion in Syria. This chapter also considers the role played by women writers and women’s issues in the development of the Syrian novel, works that showed tendencies of romanticism and social realism, contemporary historical novels, and the emergence of experimental novels and new narrative modes dealing with the Syrian experience.
This chapter examines novels of migration written in Swedish by authors with roots in Arab countries. Focusing on three autobiographical novels, the chapter shows that migration literature in Sweden is a reflection of sociopolitical realities of exclusion and discrimination. The three novels create a fictional reality informed by autobiographical experiences, represent the life of immigrants in Sweden, are told through the eyes of teenage characters, and may be considered coming-of-age narratives about the ontological experience of identity formation through a constant negotiation of personal experiences and stereotypes.
This chapter examines the development of the novel genre in Sudan and South Sudan. After discussing the beginnings of the Sudanese novel up to the early 1990s, it considers works that tackle the social and political difficulties facing the country, mainly marginality and despotism. The chapter then turns to novels that highlight the importance of a hybrid identity in Sudan, or what is called Afro-Arabism, along with novels that focus on the issues of dictatorship and the civil war. It also explores the theme of migration, some important Sudanese historical novels, and works by women writers. Finally, it looks at novels that avoid topics related to sociopolitical issues, as well as novels written in English.
This chapter examines the development of the novel genre in Somalia, Chad, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. It begins with a discussion of the use of Arabic in sub-Saharan Africa and the emergence of a new literary tradition in English, French, and Italian during and after independence. It then considers the works of Arabophone novelists from those five countries. The chapter shows that Arabic literature in sub-Saharan Africa is not homogenous and that African authors enrich the contemporary Arabic novel by introducing new perspectives on familiar themes ranging from migration to war, exile, and new cultural features, while insisting on local history and customs.
Gonzalo Fernández Parrilla and Laura Casielles
This chapter traces the origins of Moroccan literature written in Spanish. Two parallel phenomena have nourished the writing of Arab authors in Spanish during the last two decades: the revival of the Spanish language in the old colonies of Morocco and the Western Sahara, and emigration (mainly Moroccan) to Spain. The use of Spanish as a literary language did not appear until the colonial era, culminating with the French-Spanish Protectorate in 1912. This chapter first considers the beginnings of Spanish-language Moroccan literature during the colonial period before discussing the rebirth of Spanish in Morocco. It then examines the early Moroccan novels published in Spanish, along with the rise of a migrant Spanish and Catalan literature written by Moroccan immigrants who arrived as children in the 1990s and by exiled Sahrawis and other Arab authors in Spain.
This chapter discusses the development of the novel genre in Saudi Arabia. The early novels in Saudi Arabia were not considered a form of entertainment and had limited readership because, until recently, poetry was the dominant genre. The development of the novel was slow in the period 1930–1959, and novels tended to focus on cultural and social reform, varying from skepticism about external influences to a more balanced staging of dialogue with the Other. This chapter examines the Saudi novel’s movement toward new modes of innovation and modernism during the period 1959–1970, and 1980–2012, women’s literature and the depiction of women in the Saudi novel, and the contribution of women writers in the efflorescence of the genre. It also considers novels that challenge ethos of concealment, leading to negative aesthetics in the new millennium.
Mohammad Mostafa Saleem
This chapter discusses the beginnings of the novelistic tradition in Qatar, as well as the achievements of the Qatari novel during 1993–2015. It begins with an overview of the conditions that set the stage for the emergence of modern Arabic literature in the societies of the Arabian Gulf, including Qatar. Three major influences on the development of modern literature in Qatar are identified: oil, journalism, and education, especially of women. The chapter discusses the pioneers of the Qatari novel and considers novels that focused on the intellectual in situations of personal-political crisis. Finally, it examines two major trends in Qatari literature: the emergence of the historical novel and works by Qatari women authors.
This chapter discusses the beginnings of the novelistic tradition in Palestine. It first provides a brief historical overview of the Palestinian novel before discussing the three major spaces into which Palestinian literature in general is divided: inside Israel, in the Occupied Territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) since 1967, and in the Diaspora. It then considers the works of Palestinian writers in Israel that focus on the Intifada, including Zakī Darwīsh and Tawfīq Mu‘ammar, along with Palestinian novels written in the Diaspora by authors such as Jabrā Ibrahīm Jabrā and Ghassān Kanafānī. It shows that all three spaces of the Palestinian novel share some major themes related to national identity, political rights, and the tension between people and communities, on the one hand, and regimes and political authorities, on the other.
Barbara Michalak-Pikulska and Waïl S. Hassan
This chapter traces the origins of the novelistic tradition in Oman. It first considers the history of prose writing in Oman, focusing on the undisputed pioneer of Omani fiction, ‘Abd Allah al-Ṭ ā’ī (1927–1973). It then discusses the works of major contemporary novelists such as Sayf bin Sa‘īd al-Sa‘dī and Su‘ūd bin Sa‘d al-Muẓaffar. The chapter explores some of the themes used in the Omani novel, including social changes, the perceived loss of moral values, and the relationship between city and countryside. It also discusses the beginning of Omani women’s literature and the contributions of women authors such as Emily Ruete, Badriyya al-Shiḥ ḥ ī’s, Jūkha al-Ḥ ārthī, and Ghāliya F. T. Āl Sa‘īd.
This chapter examines the influence of the maqāma, a short, often comic tale written in rhymed prose, on the modern Arabic novel. The maqāma and the novel share a number of features, including openly fictitious protagonists, the use of a plot, and relative length. This chapter begins with an overview of the maqāma as a literary genre, then discusses the work of Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq and his links to the maqāma tradition, along with Badī‘ al-Zamān al-Hamadhānī’s influence on Muḥammad al-Muwayliḥ ī. It also explores the influence of maqāmas on modern Arabic literature from the nineteenth century and beyond. Finally, it assesses the role of the maqāma in the development of the modern Arabic novel.
This chapter examines the development of Arab Dutch writing in The Netherlands over the past two decades, dating back to the presentation of the first Dutch poet of Moroccan descent, Mustafa Stitou, in 1994. It begins with an overview of Dutch multiculturalism, noting how The Netherlands became a multicultural society not only in its demographic makeup, but also in its sociocultural philosophy and public policies. It then considers a selection of Arab Dutch and one Arab Flemish (Belgian) novels that offer insights into the identity struggle of immigrants and Moroccan Dutch youth and works that tackle cultural fragmentation, boundaries, and strictures.
Gonzalo Fernández Parrilla
This chapter traces the origins of the novel genre in Morocco. It first considers the novel as a reflection of the variety and complexity of Moroccan society and continues with an overview of the beginnings of the Moroccan novel in Arabic before discussing the emergence of the Francophone novel in Morocco. It then examines the disappearance of the nationalist ideology in the works of the younger generation of Moroccan novelists, replaced by other trends such as experimentalism and neo-realism. It also describes the rise of autobiographical fiction, including prison narratives as a subgenre of Moroccan literature, along with the works of new authors writing in French and the rise of women writers. Finally, it evaluates new trends in the 1990s and the latest developments in Arabic, along with the Amazigh novel.