Dec 1, 2006
Middle Eastern Literatures
Abstract This article seeks to examine to what extent al-Kawnī's first novel, the four-volume work al-Khusūf, may legitimately be considered a work of ‘magical realism’ and, if so, what distinguishes it from other examples of this genre. To this effect it engages in a detailed study of three themes which dominate the plot of the novel: first, historical references to a succession of imperialist attempts at subjugating the Sahara desert; secondly, references to indigenous mythology concerning the interface between gender relations and the relation between man and nature in the Saharan context; and thirdly, references to traditional magical practices and the apparent magical powers of the natural world. The article ends by placing the treatment of these themes in al-Kawnī's novel into the wider context of magic realist writing by comparative reference to a number of key studies on the subject.