The Ushering Violence of the Modern Nation-State in Radwa Ashour’s ثلاثية غرناطة [The Granada Trilogy]

Latifa Safoui


Radwa Ashour’s novel, ثلاثية غرناطة  [The Granada Trilogy]  subscribes to the recent trends of historiographic metafiction and magic realism. As the names indicate, history and the type of realism associated with it occupy a center-stage position in the theoretical assumptions underpinning these two literary critical paradigms. The conflation between historical facts and fictional narratives emerges as their most characterizing feature.  Such resolve to dethrone history and bring it down its ivory tower to partake of literature’s imagination and fictitious renderings of events belies a profound suspicion towards histories that intentionally discarded whole cultures and peoples from their narrative. Ashour’s Granada Trilogy is an attempt at disclosing the inconsistencies that lie at the heart of history, which claims essentially European authorship. It highlights the huge human and cultural cost that the rise of the Spanish nation-state engendered. Where official European history hails the year, 1492, as the date of discoveries, Ashour exposes the realities associated with it, which European history is oblivious of, namely, the ethnic cleansing of both the Arab Muslims in Granada and the  Indians in the New World, the wiping out of an outstanding Andalusi culture, burnings at the stake of non-conformists and dissenters, to name only a few of the realities that European history dropped out from its self-congratulating and celebrating narrative. The present paper is an analysis of Ashour’s novel that aims at bringing to light these obscured realities. It is an attempt at going deep down both the content and the form of the novel to see how the narrator’s profuse investment in the historical metafiction narrative strategies aided her to weave a solid and authoritative counter-narrative that punctures many of the myths of the well-established, hegemonic, European one.


historiographic metafiction, magic realism, Granada, the Arab Muslims, history.

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