This thesis project traces the development of a Palestinian counter-narrative of trauma in the literary works of Lebanese novelist, editor and critic Elias Khoury. It does so by looking at three novels by Khoury: the first work is Mamlakat al-ghurabā’ (The Kingdom of Strangers, 1993), which introduces his project on narrating the Palestinian experience and meditates on the potential structure of a Palestinian trauma narrative. Probably his most read work, the second novel, Bāb al-shams (Gate of the Sun, 1998), builds on these beginnings by re-enacting an incomplete, fragmented and non-teleological narrative of Palestinian traumatic memory. The same preoccupation with the history of Palestinian trauma figures in Khoury’s āwlād al-ghitu, ismī Adam (Children of the Ghetto, My Name Is Adam, 2016) which raises the question of identity in relation to trauma and digs deep into how traumatic events interrupt and reshape one’s self. Equally important is how all three works bring together Palestinian and Jewish traumatic histories analogously to disrupt Israeli hegemonic meta-narratives and propose both traumatic experiences as mirrors for other histories of suffering.


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2019

First Advisor

Mehrez, Samia

Committee Member 1

Heshmat, Dina

Committee Member 2

Abdel Nasser, Tahia


157 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


To my mother, For valuing my rushed dreams, And nurturing them with her generous love. To my father, For gifting me my first book, And inspiring me with his ceaseless sense of wonder. To Samia Mehrez, For teaching, telling and reading literature with such grace, And triggering my love for the written word in the process. To Sherene Seikaly, For introducing me to Palestine, its ongoing experiences of Nakbah and Ṣumūd, And for her relentless bias towards the human experience.