Kifah Hanna’s Feminism and Avant-Garde Aesthetics in the Levantine Novel offers serialized readings of Arabic novels by Ghada al-Samman, Sahar Khalifeh, and Huda Barakat, whose fiction portrays war’s destruction of oppositional gender relations and constructs in the Arab world. Hanna locates the birth of an “interstitial Levantine feminism” in these works (5). She situates them at the very moment in which Arabic literary works were reconsidering the “gender politics” of Lebanese and Palestinian nationalisms (126). The result, she argues, is a political feminism informed by an ethos of relationality.

In her first chapter, “The Vicious Cycle: Contemporary Literary Feminisms in the Mashriq,” Hanna argues that the political upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s produced a second, more political wave of Arab literary feminism (the first wave came in the 1930s) that interwove concerns with gender and nationalism. These...

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