A Literary History of Arab Futures: Enlightenment, Ruins, and Dystopia (Zeina Halabi)

Probes the notion of the future and the aspirations, imaginations, and anxieties it has triggered in Arabic literature since the Nahda to the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings. It explores the ways in which Arab writers, of different historical generations and literary sensibilities, have imagined the future, on which they have projected competing narratives for emancipation. Crossing different literary genres and national spaces, the literary works she examines reveal how the future, which had been driven by hopes for salvation, was imbued with despair in the aftermath of military coups and failed revolutions. The book draws on valuable scholarship pertaining to the future, but aims to offer more: It retraces the literary iterations of the concept of the future since the 19th century to the present. As such, the book does not study the literary articulations of the future in well-demarcated historical periods; It is not restricted to the present and its own anxieties about the future; nor is it concerned with historicizing futurist literary genres and tracing their adaptations to historical junctures. Rather, it builds on available scholarship that touches on these three distinct approaches to the notion of the future, but is unique in drawing on an interdisciplinary, cross-generic, and comparative approach traversing two centuries of Arabic literature, in order to understand how Arab writers have imagined their futures and constructed selfhood. 

Author: Zeina Halabi