Abstract

This article focuses on the Egyptian writer Miral al-Tahawy’s 1996 novel The Tent (al-Khibāʾ). This ethnographically informed novel sheds light on liminal, emotional, and imaginative aspects of social and personal life—those aspects that tend to be particularly challenging for the ethnographer to transmit in his or her writing about culture. I argue that we can read The Tent as ethnographically informed primarily because of the complex way in which al-Tahawy incorporates authentic poetry into the text and that this usage allows her to represent poetry as a culturally significant element of Bedouin women’s lives. I approach the novelist’s manner of writing about emotion and imaginativeness by attending to aesthetic processes themselves, which are often ignored by anthropologists looking at fiction.

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