Abouelnaga defends academic institutions, saying they have fulfilled their responsibility to introduce this literature. Arab scholars have produced many studies of on it within the framework of postcolonial studies, she said. She added, however, that “these theories themselves are no longer able to keep pace with the new changes, after problems arose regarding integration and refugee acceptance, which differ from the context in which writings of the likes of Ahdaf Soueif, Gurnah, and Salman Rushdie developed during the 1970s.”
Khairy Douma, a professor of modern Arabic literature at Cairo University, agrees that this literature has not been ignored: “We have many master’s and doctoral researches dedicated to it.” He pointed out that years ago, he translated a book titled “The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures” by the scholars Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin.
The book sheds light on the emergence of postcolonial literature as a powerful and diverse new style of writing by authors in countries such as India, Australia, Africa and Canada.
These texts represent a radical critique of the assumptions on which Eurocentrism’s visions of language and literature are based, Douma says. He asserts that Gurnah represents one of the brightest examples of this literature.
Faten Morsi, a professor of English literature at Ain Shams University, also defended Arab academics, saying their research on this type of writing “is very prolific.”
“Radwa Ashour began this trend many years ago with her book “The Follower Rises: The Novel in West Africa,” in which she called for more attention to African literature,” Morsi said. She added that there is a trend within universities now “to return to the study of classic English texts after postcolonial studies have prevailed.”
Bringing Research to the Public
Karma Sami, director of the National Center for Translation in Egypt, confirms that universities have done their part in producing studies on this literature. It’s now up to other institutions to make this knowledge available to the public, she said.
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In the future, the translation center “will seek to publish jointly with universities to make this production available to the general reader,” she said. The problem is, she added, “that most academic productions are written in a specialized language that does not meet the needs of the general reader.”
Sami, who is also a professor of English literature at Ain Shams University, said she expected that the majority of Arab publishing houses will now compete to publish Gurnah’s work. But she also predicted that his literary production “will not come as a big surprise, but rather will fit in with the general line in postcolonial writings.”