A new generation “returns” : fracture, disorientation, and tragedy in Lina Meruane’s Volverse Palestina and Rabai al-Madhoun’s Maṣā’ir

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2019-07-09

Authors

Shuffield, Garrett C.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the concept of return to Palestine as presented in two recent novels, Lina Meruane’s Volverse Palestina (Becoming Palestine) and Rabai al-Madhoun’s Maṣā’ir: kūnshirtū al-hūlūkawst wa-l-nakba (Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba), published in English translation as Fractured Destinies. These novels problematize the themes of exile, return, and home as traditionally presented in Palestinian literature. Reading the two novels in conversation, the thesis argues that a new Palestinianness is emerging, built upon shared experiences of suffering but also on the diversity that has emerged among the communities of the Palestinian diaspora and those continuing to live in historical Palestine. In particular, the thesis calls attention to the historical and contemporary experiences of Palestinian diaspora communities in Latin America, members of which are demonstrating an increased level of engagement with historical Palestine. To be Palestinian, the authors argue, cannot only mean to desire to return to Palestine; in fact, Volverse Palestina and Maṣā’ir question whether any meaningful return is possible any longer in the context of the political realities on the ground. Palestinianness has thus come to be characterized more by disorientation than by any political principle. The writings of Meruane and Madhoun demonstrate that to be Palestinian at this moment in time is to be disoriented. Yet, return continues to hold sway in the minds of Palestinians across the globe, as they grapple with issues of identity, place, politics, and memory. Through close readings and analyses of language, style, and characterization, this thesis explores the ways in which Volverse Palestina and Maṣā’ir elaborate senses of fracture, disorientation, and tragedy as Meruane and Madhoun describe what it means to be Palestinian today

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