Recommendations for Middle Eastern Postcolonial Literature
June 25, 2011 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me find postcolonial literature from the Middle East.

I don't have a specific country of focus, but I'm very interested in literature that references the British partition of the Middle East post-WWI. Novels, history books, and theoretical works all acceptable. Of course, I prefer books written in accessible language, but I'm open to books that are difficult if you deem them worthwhile. Anything referencing Transjordan gets extra points.

Here's who I've already heard of:
Edward Said
Naguib Mahfouz
Homi K. Bhabha
Abdul-Wahhab Al-Bayati

Please recommend!
posted by melancholyplay to Education (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You might be interested in Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. It's set in the late 70s and describes the aftermath of the partition.
posted by apricot at 6:29 PM on June 25, 2011

It's Turkey, so maybe not quite what you want, but I really like Orhan Pamuk, especially White Castle.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:00 PM on June 25, 2011

Response by poster: @apricot--A Fine Balance is a great novel, but it's set in India, not the Middle East. Any Middle Eastern recommendations?

@guest4lovers--Thank you! I've been meaning to read Orhan Pamuk. Will check it out.
posted by melancholyplay at 9:32 PM on June 25, 2011

If you're interested in the British-controlled areas in particular, you're looking mainly at Egypt, Jordan and Palestine. Mahfouz's Palace Walk trilogy is a sort of history of modern Egypt, and is a fantastic, but somewhat slow read. Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet deals with pre-WWII Egypt from the perspective of a British expatriate. Elias Khoury's Gate of the Sun is an utterly fantastic book about the transition from British to Israeli control of Palestine. On the Hebrew side, lots of very good modern Hebrew literature deals with Israel under the British mandate. I'd recommend Meir Shalev's The Blue Mountain as a very popular (in Israel) one.

And of course, for the ultimate British experience, check out TE Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:11 PM on June 25, 2011

One of the sections of C by Tom McCarthy takes place during the transition of power in Egypt.
posted by minifigs at 2:04 AM on June 26, 2011

Nawal El Sadawi writes of Egypt most eloquently.
posted by bardophile at 7:36 AM on June 26, 2011

Are we including non-fiction in literature?
posted by bardophile at 7:38 AM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: @devilsbrigade--All great recommendations. The Palace Walk trilogy is of course on my list, and the others are new to me. Thank you so much!

@minifigs--Did not know that. Will check it out. Thank you.

@bardophile--Very excited to hear this new name. Thank you so much!! And yes, I meant pretty much anything in book form. Non-fiction recommendations would be great.
posted by melancholyplay at 7:58 PM on June 26, 2011

Well, I've found From Rags to Riches quite fascinating. It's not particularly well-written, but it helped me understand the UAE quite a bit better.

Will think of more suggestions, too. I suppose Thesiger's work isn't quite what you're looking for.
posted by bardophile at 12:55 AM on June 27, 2011

« Older It could have been a brilliant career   |   What is this VERY famous song called? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.