Diaspora Arab Women Writers: The Legacy of Shahrazad and Female Infanticide

Nada Ramadan Elnahla
Rather than focus on Arab women’s repression from an observer’s viewpoint, Hanadi al-Samman’s “Anxiety of Erasure: Trauma, Authorship, and the Diaspora in Arab Women's Writings” (Syracuse University Press) instead highlights the accounts of female writers living in diaspora who have contributed productively and creatively through their writings. Taking close readings of six prominent authors — Ghada al-Samman, Hanan al-Shaykh, Hamida al-Na’na’, Hoda Barakat, Samar Yazbek, and Salwa al-Neimi — and exploring the therapeutic effects of resurrecting forgotten histories, the book relates the struggles of these writers in their tales to the struggles of Arab women today. To build this effect, Hanadi al-Samman connects ancient practices and stories, namely infanticide and Shahrazad, to the subconscious minds of Arab women today, showing that while ancient practices may no longer be employed, the sentiments behind them remain prominent in women’s lives and actually contribute to a systematic trauma. The author, however, suggests that writers facing this trauma can still productively involve themselves in the intellectual and political struggles of their homelands. The book, reviewed by professor Nada Ramadan Elnahla, is scheduled to appear in Al Jadid, Vol. 20, No. 71, 2016.

Copyright 2016 AL JADID MAGAZINE©