The View from beyond

Christina Civantos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Ilyas Khuri's 1994 novel Majma. al-asrar builds a fictional world around a letter "sent" by the Nasar family that has settled in Colombia in Gabriel Garciá Márquez's Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold), to cousins who remained in Lebanon. The tale that Khuri spins around this phantom letter refracts the émigré experience through the perspective of one who stayed, using intertextuality and metanarrative to treat issues of migration and estrangement. Within Lebanese narrative fiction, given the country's high number of émigrés and transnationals, there is a concentration of texts written by authors who have not (yet) emigrated but that portray an émigré community and/or the community left behind that lives with the absence of its émigrés. Such texts can be understood as part of a broader category termed "Migration Literature," a category defined by the themes of the texts rather than the geographic location or language of expression of the author. As Khuri's novel plays with shifts in perspective via intertextuality and a structure that highlights metanarrativity, it provides a shift in perspective on the émigré experience. I argue that through this shift Khuri destabilizes one of the cornerstones of traditional representations of the mahjar experience, telling the émigré story from the other side and through intertextual relationships. Through Garciá Márquez's Crónica and Imru. al-Qays' mu.allaqah, among other texts, Khuri's novel deconstructs the concept of pure, stable origins that is central to discourses of immigrant nostalgia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-215
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Arabic Literature
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Arabic novel
  • Elias Khoury
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Ily.s Kh.r.
  • Lebanese literature
  • diaspora
  • intertextuality
  • metanarrative
  • migration
  • nostalgia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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