Minaret by Leila Aboulela: From Exile to a New Home?

  • Stefania Sterlecchini University of Teramo
Keywords: Heterotopia, London, Cultural identity, Hijab, Liminal space, Postcolonialism

Abstract

In recent years, a new literary genre appears to have emerged. It is characterized by the unmistakable voices of writers of Muslim origin who explore, often from a multifaceted perspective, the intricate relationship between their own and British culture, focusing too on the tangled experience of leaving their homeland and of being received by the Western society barely known to them.

Sudanese writer, Leila Aboulela, is part of this new literary tradition. In her second novel, Minaret (2005), she employs an ironic, lyrical, and absorbing narrative to depict the fascinating and highly problematic intercultural relationship between Najwa, the heroine, and the other characters, and most significantly between the girl herself and London. The English capital is at the same time a dangerous and cruel stranger who amplifies the geographical and cultural sense of alienation felt by Najwa, and a kind of partner in crime, in which Najwa loses herself only to finally recover her own identity, the spiritual dimension she had long lost, and much sought-after peace of mind.

In this essay, we investigate this at times difficult relationship to explore how the cultures that Najwa and London represent – respectively, Eastern and Western – combine and interweave, thus creating a liminal space where a new identity of compromise and dialogue is possible.

References

Aboulela, Leila, "Moving Away from Accuracy", Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 22, 2002: 198-207.

Aboulela, Leila, Minaret, , New York, Black Cat Press, 2005.

Aboulela, Leila, The Translator, New York, Black Cat Press, 2006 (1999).

Ashcroft, Bill – Griffiths, Gareth – Tiffin, Helen (eds), The Empire Writes Back, London and New York, Routledge, 2002 (1989).

AA.VV., “London and Islam. How has the city of Christian Empire coped with its great religious rival?”, Time Out London, “London for Visitors” series, London, Time Out Publishing, 2008: 2.

Bertinetti, Roberto, Londra. Viaggio in una metropoli che non si ferma mai, Torino, Einaudi, 2007.

Bhabha, Homi K. (ed.), Nation and Narration, London/New York, Routledge, 1990.

Bhabha, Homi K., The Location of Culture, London/New York, Routledge, 1994.

Cariello, Marta, "Musical Chairs: Negotiating Space in Leila Aboulela’s Minaret,, Forms of Migration/Migration of Forms (Atti del XXIII Convegno Nazionale AIA), Eds. Vittoria Intonti - Federica Troisi – Marina Vitale, Bari, Progedit, 2009: 247-255.

Dumm, Thomas, Michel Foucault and the Politics of Freedom, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Inc., 2002.

Foucault, Michel, "Of Other Spaces", Diacritics, 16.1, 1986: 22-27.

Guth, Stephan, Appropriating, or Secretly Undermining, the Secular Literary Heritage. Distant echoes of “Mawsim al-Hijra” in a Muslim writer’s novel: Leila Aboulela, The Translator”,Intertextuality in Modern Arabic Literature since 1967, Eds. Luc-Willy Deheuvels – Barbara Michalak-Pikulska – Paul Starkey, Durham, Durham University Press, 2006: 65-82.

Hall, Stuart, Il soggetto e la differenza. Per un'archeologia degli studi culturali e postcoloniali, Roma, Meltemi, 2006.

Kureishi, Hanif, “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “The Rainbow Sign” , London, Faber & Faber, 1986.

Majid, Anouar, Unveiling Traditions. Postcolonial Islam in a Polycentric World, Durham, Duke University Press, 2000.

Niada, Marco, La nuova Londra. Capitale del XXI secolo, Milano, Garzanti, 2008.

Rushdie, Salman, Imaginary Homelands, London, Granta Books, 1991.

Said, Edward, Culture and Imperialism, London, Vintage, 1994.

Said, Edward, Orientalismo , Milano, Feltrinelli, 2001.

Smyth, Brendan, “To Love the Orientalist: Masculinity in Leila Aboulela’s The Translator”, Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality, 1.2 (June 2007): 170-182.

Stotesbury, John, "Genre and Islam in Recent Anglophone Romantic Fiction", Refracting the Canon in Contemporary British Literature and Film , Eds. Christian Gutleben – Susana Onega, Amsterdam/New York, Rodopi, 2004: 69-82.

Sitografia

Benedictus, Leo, “Every Race, Colour, Nation and Religion on Earth”, The Guardian, 21.01.2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jan/ 21/britishidentity.race, online (ultimo accesso. 24/05/2011).

Published
2011-11-26
How to Cite
Sterlecchini, S. (2011). <i>Minaret</i&gt; by Leila Aboulela: From Exile to a New Home?. Between, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/303