In the following critique El-Hussari discusses three of Ghassan Kanafani’s books: Rijal fil-Shams (Men in the Sun), Ma tabaqqa la-Kum (All That’s Left to You), and Umm Sa’ad. Kanafani. As a Palestinian refugee himself, Kanafani has fathered a genre of literature known as ‘Resistance Literature’. His literary works have continued to have a reverberating influence on the political and social discourse of Palestinian refugees throughout the Arab world. Though he does not focus specifically on gender issues, his analysis of Palestinian nationalism highlights the complex social and political context in which refugee women exist. El-Hussari’s critique of Kanafani’s novels focuses on the transformation of the female characters in their shift from passivity to political and social awareness and engagement.
In so doing, El-Hussari suggests that Kanafani’s female characters represent the Palestinian refugee population in their political and social struggle to regain a voice and an ownership of destiny. Though the Palestinian refugee situation is unique, Kanafani’s focus on the Palestinian refugees struggle with engagement and activism resonates with other refugee communities in the Arab world. El-Hussari draws attention to the issue of refugee women who not only face discrimination as refugees but who also struggle with the gendered tension between voicelessness and engagement within the home and in the broader Arab society.
Kanafani, G. (1990). All that’s left to you: Novella and other stories (M. Jayyusi & J. Reed, Trans.). Austin, Texas: Center for Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Texas. (Original work published 1963).
Kanafani, G. (1978). Men in the sun and other Palestinian stories (H. Kilpatrick, Trans.). Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press.
(Original work published 1956).
Kanafani, G. (n.d.) Umm Sa’ad: Qisas Falastiniyya. In Ghassan Kanafani: al-Athar El-Kamila (The Complete Work: The Novels), vol. I. Beirut: Mu’assasat el-Abhath el-Arabiya.
Millet, K. (1971). Sexual politics. New York: Avon Books.