Disorientation and the Metropolis in Hudā Barakāt’s Hārith al-miyāh

in Journal of Arabic Literature
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Abstract

In Hārith al-miyāh (The Tiller of Waters, 1998) Hudā Barakāt departs from traditional war narratives to unravel the horrors of war by depicting a protagonist whose life is reduced to an animal-like existence and whose relationship with space and time disorients both him and the reader. To preserve knowledge of his self, and to safeguard his homeland from complete annihilation, he reconstructs its history by telling stories to his beloved about Lebanon’s textiles industry. Through this alternative national ‘history,’ he tries to re-orient himself with (and within) his metropolis as it becomes a war-ravished wasteland. As he recreates his nation through oral narration, he also reintegrates its (now) scattered and conflicting communities as he recalls them into his narratives. This essay argues that the knowledge of history challenges disorientation and can become a means by which to defend the metropolis from erasure.

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