Identity Quest: When East Meets West in Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis: A Post-Colonial Reading


The cultural representation of the Western Other in modern Arabic fiction is a formidable body of texts that stretches over a span of almost one hundred years – from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present. Emerging out of the experience of colonization, most of these fictional narratives have asserted themselves by foregrounding the tension with the imperial Other, thus emphasizing a discourse where the encounter between East and West, whether literal or metaphorical, has been presented in a series of deep rooted dichotomies of East/West, colonized/colonizer, slave/master, backward/civilized, material/spiritual, bonded/free, ruled/free, etc. From this cultural output stands out Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis (2007). The winner of the inaugural International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) in March 2008, Sunset Oasis in a way continues the initial perceptions of the West in Arab fiction, but, more importantly, it, in other ways, contests them. This paper throws light on how, in its decidedly holistic perspective, Taher’s novel goes beyond the usual chaos and conflict into spaces of love, understanding, harmony, equality, dialogue, exploration, compatibility, and reconciliation. This paper addresses the question of representation in Sunset Oasis on both thematic and technical levels. The paper aims at studying how the Arab/Eastern narrative-self, Taher’s in this case, represents and perceives of the West, and how this West lives in the Eastern consciousness and subconscious as part of the Self; negating it is an obliteration of the Self, an obliteration of an essential part to discover itself.

Author Information
Mona Kattaya, Ain Shams University, Egypt

Paper Information
Conference: IICAHDubai2017
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

This paper is part of the IICAHDubai2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon