Coming of Age in the Arab Diasporic Künstlerroman: Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer (2013) and Nada Awar Jarrar’s An Unsafe Haven (2016)

Meriem Zaarour, Eman Mukattash, Yousef Abu Amrieh


This study explores the künstlerroman from an Arab diasporic viewpoint. It aims to illuminate the first years of the formative process that the Arab diasporic artist undergoes in The Corpse Washer (2013) by Sinan Antoon and An Unsafe Haven (2016) by Nada Awar Jarrar as Arab diasporic künstlerromans. The article traces the childhood of Antoon’s Jawad and Jarrar’s Anas as young aspiring Arab artists against the backdrop of the novels’ socio-political contexts, which include religion, family, and the political conditions in the protagonists’ countries. Since Arab diasporic writers relocate the genre into an Arab transnational setting, this study draws attention to the violence and suffering in the lives of artists as children and the fact that they are brought up in an Arab household that does not feature in the traditional genre plot. It as well explores the environment the characters grow up in like social class and religious milieu and expounds on the way each character has seeds of artistic sensibility from a young age. The Arab characters face the issue of generational conflict about art as a proper career choice. Their parents play a role in the suppression of their artistic aspirations since they assume that they have a better-planned future for their children. Due to family expectations, religion, and political unrest, the characters have their future planned for them by others. The article concludes that the Arab diasporic künstlerroman provides alternative coming-of-age stories where the artist of Arab descent faces more challenges than his counterpart in the traditional genre.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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