In her preface, Hartman poses three critical questions that underline the inherent tension of writing Lebanese literature in French: “Can a work written in a colonial language like French express the everyday realities lived in Arabic in Lebanon? Can this be done in a way that does not simply ‘spice up’ the text and make a French novel seem more exotic? How can a French text speak Arabic?” (ix–x). These questions inform Hartman’s analysis as she examines eight novels written in French by Lebanese women writers from 1933 to 2003. This seventy-year period witnessed different evolutions of the Lebanese novel at critical moments in the history of modern Lebanon, including French colonialism, Lebanese independence, a fifteen-year civil war, and the ongoing postwar nation building. In this regard Hartman’s analysis of the literary landscape is particularly attentive to the...

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