"A groundbreaking monograph on Arab fiction by women, intertwining issues of gender, trauma, politics, and war."—International Journal of Middle East Studies
"Al-Samman examines the writing of six women from the past fifty years to discover the threads that draws their work into communication with one another."—World Literature Today
"Anxiety of Erasure is the kind of book we need today--both because we need more studies that focus on women's texts and struggles and also because these must be linked together in order to actualize the political possibilities."—Review of Middle East Studies
"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."—Mushin al-Musawi, professor of comparative and Arabic studies, Columbia University
"An eye-opening read that addresses the depths of the angst of the Arab woman. Al-Samman has used a wide range of literature from a number of authors and pieced them together to bring to light the misjudged chronicle of the Arab woman’s existence."—Middle East Monitor
"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
"A vital edition to the understudies field of Arab women's writing."—Al Jadid
""An important reading of contemporary Arab women writers in the diaspora, including Europe and the Americas, over the past half-century, contributing to the fields of Arabic literature, gender studies, and diaspora studies."—Journal of Arabic Literature
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.
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.
6 x 9, 312 pages