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Homosexuality and the Arabic Novel: The Triumph of Mockery

posted on: Sep 5, 2015

It wasn’t just the novel itself, but Zaghmout’s expert steering of it. On her blog, Nadia Muhanna writes about an interview with Zaghmout on Jordanian TV several months after the book’s release. His interviewer referred to a gay character in the novel as shaz, an offensive term. Zaghmout corrected the presenter, using the term muthley. “By the end of the interview,” Muhanna writes, “the presenter was using ‘LGBT-friendly language.’”

Zaghmout’s fast-paced novel, translated into English by Ruth Ahmedzai-Kemp (2015), is as much a social project as a literary one, a moderate push toward sexual and gender liberation. One feels, while reading it, that it was less important to Zaghmout to craft the great Jordanian novel than it was to show that women’s and queers’ lives matter. Fair enough.