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Fiction of Scandal

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image of Journal of Arabic Literature

AbstractThis article examines the tribulations of the Arab author in the age of social media. Focusing on Youssef Rakha, Abdo Khal, Ahmad Alaidy, Rajaa Alsanea, and Khaled Alkhamissi, I tie in acts of hacking, manipulation, and marketing in and of their works to questions of ethical ambivalence and aesthetic fluctuation, translational politics and canon formation that arise from threatening and violent encounters occurring on the street, in writing workshops, and on Twitter. I argue that the author emerges in new writing as the faddāh/ah [exposer, scandalizer] who exposes and hacks political models and literary tradition only to be hacked and exposed by his/her own hacking and fadh. Engaging the political dimension of hacking and scandal, I examine how literature is recoded, reimagined, and reaffirmed through greed, exhibitionism, and confrontation. This study expands the field of Arabic literary studies by exploring new sites of meaning and signification, connections and associations—between browsing practices and reading; activism and writing—in a rapidly changing technological, literary, and political landscape.

Affiliations: 1: University of Texas at Austin, URL:


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