THE LITTERSCAPE AND THE NUDE: HISTORY ESCAPES IN MANSUR BUSHNAF'SAL-ʿILKA(CHEWING GUM).
jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pMansur Bushnaf'sjats:italical-ʿIlka</jats:italic>(Chewing Gum; 2008) 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 19th-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 howjats:italicturāth</jats:italic>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. Injats:italical-ʿIlka</jats:italic>, 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.</jats:p>