Gender and the Palestinian Narrative of Return in Two Novels by Ghassan Kanafani<sup>*</sup>

Amy Zalman

in Literature and Nation in the Middle East

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620739
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653102 | DOI:
Gender and the Palestinian Narrative of Return in Two Novels by Ghassan Kanafani*

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Late twentieth-century Palestinian literature is divided into two periods: between 1948 to 1967 and after 1967. Of these two major divisions, the period of the early 1960s stands out. It is during this period that the idea of returning to Palestine was given narrative form: in the first visible stirrings of broad political organisation and armed struggle, through the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and in literature. This chapter focuses on two literary expressions that express the idea of returning to Palestine. These narratives are Ghassan Kanafi's Rijal fi al-Shams (Men in the Sun), published in 1962, and Ma Tabaqqa Lakum (All That's Left to You), published in 1966. The chapter argues that gender is intrinsic to the narratives established in these novels, and that, in them, new forms of masculinity are constructed in relation to national loss and national restoration. Moreover, a fuller analysis of the mutual construction of masculine and national identity reveals a dynamic and historically specific symbolism at work in the well-known association between land and woman.

Keywords: Palestinian literature; returning to Palestine; Ghassan Kanafi; gender; national loss; national restoration

Chapter.  15800 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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