Breaking Knees: Modern Arabic Short Stories from Syria

Overview

The general theme of Breaking Knees, as of much of Tamer’s work, is repression: of the individual by the institutions of state and religion and of individuals by each other, particularly women by men. Thus the question of authority – political, social, sexual and religious – forms the thematic core of the book, with (female) sexuality receiving the lion’s share of concern.

Political authority is manifest in the emphasis in many stories on the machinations of the police state – ...

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Breaking Knees: Modern Arabic Short Stories from Syria

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Overview

The general theme of Breaking Knees, as of much of Tamer’s work, is repression: of the individual by the institutions of state and religion and of individuals by each other, particularly women by men. Thus the question of authority – political, social, sexual and religious – forms the thematic core of the book, with (female) sexuality receiving the lion’s share of concern.

Political authority is manifest in the emphasis in many stories on the machinations of the police state – arbitrary arrest and detention, interrogations, corruption. Social authority expresses itself in the patriarchal cultural order and dominance of religious and cultural institutions and conventions that constrain individual freedom. Many stories stress religious hypocrisy and the unfilled sexual expectations of women.

In bringing together religion, politics and sexuality (sometimes all three in the same story), the author is telling us indirectly that these forms of oppression are all connected. From the perspective of the countless Arab individuals who have adopted modern values based on democratic institutions and human rights, the state of affairs characterized by political and cultural stagnation, a destructive worship of tradition and a glorification of a mythical past, appears truly dire.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859642030
  • Publisher: Garnet Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,242,178
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Syrian author ZAKARIA TAMER is acknowledged as one of the greatest writers of the modern Arab world. His writing covers a range of literary forms, but his literary stature and influence rest on the type of very short story included in this work. His work has been translated into many languages.

IBRAHIM MUHAWI was born in Palestine and received his higher education in English literature at the University of California. His translations include Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales and Mahmoud Darwish’s Memory for Forgetfulness. From 1997–2002 he was Director of the Master’s Programme in Translation Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

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