Salwā al-Naʻīmī’s Šibh al-ǧazīra al-ʻarabiyya
For a New Arab Identity
In her latest novel, Šibh al-ǧazīra al-ʻarabiyya (2012), Salwā al-Naʻīmī narrates the experience of exile of a Syrian woman who lives in France. Through the protagonist’s first-person account, the author questions the meaning of nation, membership to a collective and identity for an Arab woman settled in France. The main character embodies the exiled subject – or the ‘nomadic subject’ (Braidotti, 2002) – who severs her ties with family, nation, Ba‘ṭ’s party and religion. This painful process of liberation leads her to a global re-signification of the notion of Arab identity. The protagonist succeeds in releasing the meaning of Arab identity from the idea of normative membership to a collective. al-Naʻīmī choice to narrate the experience of exile in Arabic helps to restore a link between the individual and the community, here identified with the community of speakers.