Bashir Abu-Manneh’s detailed study “The Palestinian novel: From 1948 to the present” (Cambridge University Press, 2016) combines the historical processes of Palestinian memory and postcolonial and literary theory in a manner which brings the various narratives and experiences of Palestinians to the fore.
There is a unifying factor identified by the author – dispossession – which is synonymous with Palestine and comprises the framework for analysing the historical framework and the literary expression within the novels; the latter by utilising the writings of literary theorist Georg Lukács, who argues that historical defeats and their aftermaths disrupted the previous literary forms. As Abu-Manneh states, for Lukács, the novel “is attuned to its multiple social and historical determinations.”
In the case of Palestine, the Nakba, 1967 and Oslo generated a unifying factor in the Palestinian experience despite the visible fragmentation of land and people. The spectrum of Palestinian historical memory is varied, intense and complex, revealing the dynamics of resistance and liberation to be fraught with both internal and external constraints. Indeed, the unifying factor in the Palestinian experience since the Nakba – dispossession – and its various ramifications, including the interpretations of anti-colonial resistance, form the foundations of Abu-Manneh’s treatise.
Dispossession is introduced immediately in the text: “Uneven condition is thus endemic to Palestinian existence, a basic fact of dispossession and exile.” With this statement, the author opens up on a plethora of consequences of political unevenness in which the exiled Palestinians and those living under military occupation embody distinct characteristics with regard to their struggle; characteristics that are all relevant in interpreting the literature chosen by Abu-Manneh for the purpose of this study. Read more.