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Sexualized Collaborations and the Politics of Ghostwriting in Franco-Arab Literature: From Paul Bowles to Tout le monde aime Mohamed

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AbstractIn the last few decades, the landscape of Franco-Arab fiction has seen a great many authorship scandals, in which French non-Arab authors have impersonated Arabs and found publishing success. In this essay, I revisit these scandals while focusing on a recent “autobiographical” novel that raised suspicions of ghostwriting: 2011’s Tout le monde aime Mohamed (Everyone Loves Mohamed ) by Malik Kuzman. An impressionistic collage of homo-erotic encounters, its fleeting structure recalls that of Barthes’ Incidents, a series of social vignettes culled from the author’s time in Morocco. I explore the simultaneity of Barthes’ Death of the Author argument and the emergence of these authorship scandals in post-colonial Franco-Arab fiction, and suggest that it is not accidental. In a similar vein, I analyze how the heritage of literary collaborations between Europeans and North Africans, often eroticized, has informed authorship scandals in post-immigration France.

Affiliations: 1: Smith College


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