Date

4-29-2020

Description

This paper examines how French-Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa's 2015 novel "A Country for Dying" offers a queer, postcolonial critique of mainstream French discourse around gay rights. My objective is to understand how this critique represents a break from Taïa's earlier, more "mainstream" works. Through the use of queer critical theorists Jasbir Puar and Lisa Duggan's concepts of homonationalism and homonormativity as the appropriation of LGBT rights by an imperialist state, I highlight how Taïa's portrayal of two undocumented North African prostitutes challenges France's self-image as a haven for marginalized sexualities as well as its rigid immigration policies. The transgender prostitute Zannouba embodies the essentializing impulses of French LGBT discourse, which fetishizes her as a gay Arab man while denying her womanhood. Meanwhile, her friend Zahira refuses to be victimized and offers her pro bono prostitution "services" to poor immigrant men, in an effort to shield them from the pain of marginalization and racism. In conclusion, I discuss the public reception of "A Country for Dying"and how it reveals persistent discomfort with Taïa's more political and subversive works, thereby highlighting the importance for queer literature to remain a site of resistance.

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Apr 29th, 12:00 AM

"Mister Sartre and Señora Beauvoir Are Old News": Queer Arab Resistance in Abdellah Taïa's "A Country for Dying"

This paper examines how French-Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa's 2015 novel "A Country for Dying" offers a queer, postcolonial critique of mainstream French discourse around gay rights. My objective is to understand how this critique represents a break from Taïa's earlier, more "mainstream" works. Through the use of queer critical theorists Jasbir Puar and Lisa Duggan's concepts of homonationalism and homonormativity as the appropriation of LGBT rights by an imperialist state, I highlight how Taïa's portrayal of two undocumented North African prostitutes challenges France's self-image as a haven for marginalized sexualities as well as its rigid immigration policies. The transgender prostitute Zannouba embodies the essentializing impulses of French LGBT discourse, which fetishizes her as a gay Arab man while denying her womanhood. Meanwhile, her friend Zahira refuses to be victimized and offers her pro bono prostitution "services" to poor immigrant men, in an effort to shield them from the pain of marginalization and racism. In conclusion, I discuss the public reception of "A Country for Dying"and how it reveals persistent discomfort with Taïa's more political and subversive works, thereby highlighting the importance for queer literature to remain a site of resistance.