Anouar Majid’s novel, 'Si Yussef,' is analyzed in two new scholarly books

Anouar Majid, Ph.D., UNE associate provost for global initiatives and director of the Center for Global Humanities, over the past decade has been recognized internationally as a scholar whose work has dealt with the place of Islam in the age of globalization and Muslim-Western relations since 1492.  Most notably, he has been interviewed on PBS’s Bill Moyer’s Journal and acknowledged by Princeton scholar and public intellectual Cornel West as one of a few "towering Islamic intellectuals."

Recently, however, the spotlight is on Majid’s 1992 novel, Si Yussef (reprinted 2005), which is the subject of chapters in two new books.

Michael K. Walonen, in “A Counter-Discourse of Tangerian Space in the Works of Tahar Ben Jelloun and Anouar Majid,” a chapter in his study Writing Tangier in the Postcolonioal Transition: Space and Power in Expatriate and North African Literature (Ashgate), considers Si Yussef in the context of the work of such Western expatriate writers as Paul Bowles, Brion Gysin, Alfred Chester, as well as Jean Genet, Francis Bacon and Tennessee Williams.  Majid, along with Bell Jelloun, provides “an alternative understanding of the desert and its relation to the more densely settled areas of the region, the forms of spatially manifested oppression that enabled the privileged access of Westerners and the native social elite both during and after the end of the colonial era, and an understanding of the International Zone period in terms of a much lengthier and broadly encompassing historical narrative. In doing so Ben Jelloun and Majid depart from Bowles and company in their manner of envisioning the Maghreb.”

Steven Salaita in his new book Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader’s Guide (Syracuse University Press) analyses Si Yussef in a chapter titled “From the Maghreb to the American Mainstream: Writers of North African Origin (Anouar Majid, Laila Lalami, Samia Serageldin).”   Salaita notes that, “although [Si Yussef] takes place exclusively in Morocco and deals largely with Moroccan history and politics, it is written in English and employs themes relevant to readers of all backgrounds.”  He concludes that “Morocco is too complex to define, too clear-cut to romanticize. Majid describes it in allegory, then, using [the voices of the three main characters] to narrate into existence a nation that would otherwise disappear.”

In 2006, Si Yussef was also the subject of a chapter in Representing Minorities Studies in Literature and Criticism (Cambridge Scholars Press), edited by Larbi Touaf and Soumia Boutkhil. The chapter by Chourouq Nasri was titled "Tangier: a Place Reinvented, Made and Unmade by Anouar Majid in Si Yussef."

Majid, a native of Morocco, is the author of four critically acclaimed books on Islam and the West, including We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades against Muslims and Other Minorities. His latest book, Islam and America: Building a Future without Prejudice, is soon to be released by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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