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Papa Sartre: A Modern Arabic Novel (Modern Arabic Literature) Hardcover – November 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-9774162985 ISBN-10: 9774162986

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Arabic Literature
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9774162986
  • ISBN-13: 978-9774162985
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,304,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author


Ali Bader, born in Baghdad in 1964, studied philosophy and French literature and worked as a war correspondent covering the Middle East. He is the author of nine novels, many of which have won awards. He now lives in Amman, Jordan.

Aida Bamia is professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She is the translator of The Inheritance by Sahar Khalifeh (AUC Press, 2005).

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Format: Hardcover
When an unnamed speaker is contacted by a gravedigger and his "depraved friend" to write a biography of the recently deceased philosopher Abd al-Rahman, "the existentialist of Baghdad," he is told that the biography will be financed by a wealthy merchant and that they have documents to give him for his research. Though the writer knows that these people are scoundrels, he is so destitute that he agrees to accept the job. Constantly looking for valuable information which will eliminate the possibility of distortion, the speaker begins his research. Ultimately, one of his financial backers, a trader in art and antiques, tells him just to "present him with some endings, and he will choose one."

Part II, "The Writing Journey," consists of biographical snippets by the writer/biographer, though the presentation of information is not chronological. Flashing back to the life of Abd al-Rahman in the 1960s, the story unfolds, a challenging story in which the philosophy of Sartre becomes irrevocably intertwined with the pleasure-seeking desires of the well-off Abd-al-Rahman, who is always seeking the goal of "nausea" through wine, women, and self-indulgence. Whenever he is invited to write an article for publication, he turns it down with the excuse that "Whoever writes finds something worthwhile, a meaningful life. How can I then go on believing in a meaningless world?" They believe in constant talk, not writing--conveniently rationalizing their behavior in terms of their search for "nausea."

As the intellectual pretentions of Abd al-Rahman and his friends become more and more obvious to the reader, the satire becomes more pointed, and as Abd al-Rahman's family wealth begins to decline, he does not care or change his way of life.
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