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5 Apr 2012
Sample entry for the Annotated Bibliography Assignment:
Salaita, Steven. Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics. New York:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Using a mix of literary and social analysis, this book examines a broad range of modern
Arab American literary fiction and illustrates how numerous socio-political phenomena
have affected the development of the Arab American novel. Salaita argues that in the
United States a variety of fictions about Arabs and Islam circulate frequently in both
popular and academic cultures. He endeavors in turn to highlight the diversities inscribed in
the Arab American community that render it more complex than generally is acknowledged
in public discussion, an endeavor undertaken through critique of a cross-section of modern
Arab American novelists, including Etel Adnan, Rabih Alameddine, Joseph Geha, and
Laila Halaby, using specific examples from his own childhood and youth as an Arab
American and from scenes and texts that belong to American popular culture.
Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics is the first original book of Arab
American literary criticism and offers reflections on the viability of developing an Arab
American Studies. While there are plenty of individual articles that focus on works by Arab
American writers, Salaita’s book is unique not only in its extensive analysis of these
primary texts and its contextualization of Arab American literature as part of the realm of
Ethnic American Literary criticism but also as in its appeal for an independent Arab
American critical scene—a call that has been ignored by members of the Arab American
intellectual community for a long time. Salaita’s research is rich and detailed, ranging
from works by early Arab American authors, such as Adnan and Lawrence, to emerging
ones, such as Hammad and Halaby. That said, Salaita is explicit about his self-conscious
decision to focus exclusively on fiction, marginalizing a huge of body of Arab American
poetry, that could have made his critical study even more exhaustive otherwise. Salaita’s
research is multi-disciplinary at heart. He uses different critical approaches, both in terms
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