Postcolonial Fiction and Sacred Scripture: Rewriting the Divine?

Francophone writers from North Africa and the Middle East often choose to write within a sacred context, sometimes engaging directly with Islamist rhetoric. Novelists like Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco), Assia Djebar (Algeria) and Amin Maalouf (Lebanon) revisit scripture as a way to convey nuances which they believe have been stamped out by monolithic religious world-views. For them, fiction offers a way to break away from limited exegetical horizons, but to remain within the faith. Others, though, would go further, moving away from all religious practice, not just the excessively political or violent. Tunisian writers Abdelwahab Meddeb and Fethi Benslama propose that all literature is of its very nature outside of religion, and that its proliferation will ultimately lead to a secular society. Qadiri explores this wide spectrum of approaches, not only by draw comparison with metropolitan French thought, but also to assess its potential impact at a time of radical change in the Islamic world. Sura Qadiri is a research associate in the French Department, University of Cambridge.