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Voyages out and in: Two (British) Arab Muslim women’s Bildungsromane

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Abstract

This chapter examines two novels concerned with the experience of Arab Muslim women in national contexts of origin and in migrant situations in Britain, exploring ways in which female protagonists defi ne themselves in relation to national and supra-national communities. The two texts are Ahdaf Soueif’s In the Eye of the Sun (1992) and Leila Aboulela’s Minaret (2005). Although both female authors and their main characters identify as Arab and Muslim, the analysis will show that the relative emphasis on these categories varies signifi cantly. Indeed, in bringing together two ‘pathfi nder’ Bildungsromane whose publication dates span thirteen years, I signal a wider turn from Arab to Muslim affi liation. The chapter also assesses, with attention to informing contexts and formal textual qualities, to what extent these novels reflect feminist perspectives.