Contemporary Arab-American Literature

Transnational Reconfigurations of Citizenship and Belonging

272 pages

9 halftones

May, 2014

ISBN: 9781479804313

$23

Paper

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Author

Carol Fadda-Conrey is Assistant Professor of English at Syracuse University. 

All books by Carol Fadda-Conrey

The last couple of decades have witnessed a flourishing of Arab-American literature across multiple genres. Yet, increased interest in this literature is ironically paralleled by a prevalent bias against Arabs and Muslims that portrays their long presence in the US as a recent and unwelcome phenomenon. Spanning the 1990s to the present, Carol Fadda-Conrey takes in the sweep of literary and cultural texts by Arab-American writers in order to understand the ways in which their depictions of Arab homelands, whether actual or imagined, play a crucial role in shaping cultural articulations of US citizenship and belonging. By asserting themselves within a US framework while maintaining connections to their homelands, Arab-Americans contest the blanket representations of themselves as dictated by the US nation-state.
 
Deploying a multidisciplinary framework at the intersection of Middle-Eastern studies, US ethnic studies, and diaspora studies, Fadda-Conrey argues for a transnational discourse that overturns the often rigid affiliations embedded in ethnic labels. Tracing the shifts in transnational perspectives, from the founders of Arab-American literature, like Gibran Kahlil Gibran and Ameen Rihani, to modern writers such as Naomi Shihab Nye, Joseph Geha, Randa Jarrar, and Suheir Hammad, Fadda-Conrey finds that contemporary Arab-American writers depict strong yet complex attachments to the US landscape. She explores how the idea of home is negotiated between immigrant parents and subsequent generations, alongside analyses of texts that work toward fostering more nuanced understandings of Arab and Muslim identities in the wake of post-9/11 anti-Arab sentiments.

Reviews

  • "Engaging a stunning array of Arab American writers, Fadda-Conrey offers an original analysis of the ways in which Arab American literature articulates new forms of citizenship, forms that are transnational in scope and that reconfigure notions of geography and belonging. This will be the go-to book on Arab American literature."

    —Evelyn Alsultany, author of Arabs and Muslims in the Media

  • "This book can be read as an introduction to Arab-American literature or as a reference to enrich one’s understanding of this relatively new and exciting field. Fadda-Conrey writes with passion and analytical precision about a topic in which she is obviously well versed and deeply involved."

    Jordan Times

  • "Fadda-Conrey's work is sure to make a lasting impact on the way we think about not only Arab American artistic and cultural production but also the relationship between ethnic identity, American citizenship, and transnational belonging."

    MELUS

  • “[Fadda-Conrey’s] preference for the term ‘transnational enactments’ allows for such variances as physical mobility and imaginative attachment and favors ‘larger structures of belonging.’”

    American Literary Scholarship