THE LITTERSCAPE AND THE NUDE: HISTORY ESCAPES IN MANSUR BUSHNAF'SAL-ʿILKA(CHEWING GUM).
International Journal of Middle East Studies
Cambridge University Press
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Olszok, C. (2019). THE LITTERSCAPE AND THE NUDE: HISTORY ESCAPES IN MANSUR BUSHNAF'SAL-ʿILKA(CHEWING GUM).. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 51 (1), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0020743818000478
Mansur Bushnaf’s al-‘Ilka (2008; Chewing Gum) is the author’s sole novel, born of his twelve-year imprisonment in a Libyan jail, and his reflection on the nation’s subjection to international marginalization and dictatorial rule under Gaddafi. The novel is centered on a nineteenth-century nude which confounds all who encounter it, and which lies neglected in a corner of Tripoli’s Red Palace Museum. Through this statue, and the novel’s broader poetics of stasis and “chewing,” I explore how turāth in Bushnaf’s work, and wider Libyan fiction, is depicted through its abject vulnerability and exposure to historical vicissitudes, reflecting the parallel exclusion of human lives from rights and agency. In al-‘Ilka, I examine how this is formulated into a defamiliarizing perspective on the postmodern, and on historical trauma and erasure, in which the possibility of narrative is a driving concern, rooted in existential reflection, as well as the real precarity of those who tell stories in Libya.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/s0020743818000478
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/280005