Arab American Novels Post-9/11

Classical Storytelling Motifs Against Outsidership



In the aftermath of 9/11, Arab American writing surged. While there have been Arab American writers before, they tended to identify as American only and thus did not recur to Arab elements in their writing. Why did Arab American literature suddenly rise? What is its purpose? How do the novels deal with 9/11? How do authors portray their group’s identity, how the group’s position in US society? And how do they poeticize these questions? What sets them apart from mainstream literature? Many Arab American novels draw on well-known, classical Arab storytelling traditions. In how far do they adapt them?

This study analyzes Diana Abu-Jaber’s Crescent, Rabih Alameddine’s ‘The Hakawati’, Laila Halaby’s ‘Once in a Promised Land’, and Alia Yunis’ ‘The Night Counter’; and it answers the above questions by a close reading against the background of classical Arab elements, and by employing concepts of figurational sociology to analyze the poeticization of establishment and outsidership in the novels.