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  • Author or Editor: Anouar El Younssi x
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This article discusses the politics of form in ʿ⁠Abdullāh al-ʿ⁠Arwī’s 1989 ʾAwrāq: sīrat Idrīs al-dhihniyyah (Papers: Idrīs’s Intellectual Biography), an important contribution to Moroccan experimental literature in the postcolonial era. Together with Muḥammad Barrādah’s 1987 novel Luʿbat al-nisyān (The Game of Forgetting, 1996), Awrāq consolidated the experimental turn in the Moroccan literary scene, aiding thereby its ascent to the mainstream. ʾAwrāq is a two-layered text, presenting the reader with, first, a stack of papers of various sorts belonging to the diseased protagonist Idrīs, and second, the commentaries on this archive by the narrator and Shuʿ⁠ayb. The book constantly oscillates between these two layers, attempting in the process to shake the dominant realist form and its underlying European point of reference. ʾAwrāq’s search for its best form parallels Idrīs’s quest to restore, or be reconciled to, his identity in the context of France and Europe’s colonial project and its legacy. The text’s experimentalism is thus strategically harnessed to wrestle, within the diegesis, with various political and sociocultural challenges facing Morocco, and the Arab/Arabo-Amazigh world more broadly, in the postcolonial era—including the colossal task of reconciling the Islamic heritage (al-turāth) with hegemonic Western discourses of modernity.

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In: Journal of Arabic Literature