Unfi tting and Not Belonging: Feeling Embodied and Being Displaced in Rabih Alameddine’s Fiction
In what follows, I examine the work of Rabih Alameddine, a Lebanese American author whose work has been hailed as provocative and postmodern for its rich exploration of Arab, Arab American, philosophical, queer, and transnational themes. He has also been lauded for his experimentation with the form of the novel. 1 Alameddine has published three novels-Koolaids: The Art of War (1998); I, the Divine: A Novel in First Chapters (2001) and The Hakawati: A Story (2008)—and a collection of short stories, The Perv (1999). Despite my discomfort with erecting an Arab American literary canon (for a variety of reasons), it is clear that Alameddine’s work features prominently in any discussion of contemporary Arab American literature. He is arguably the most commercially successful author and, certainly, one of the most critically acclaimed. 2 Most secondary literature written about Alameddine’s work tends to focus on the experience and implications of exile and displacement. 3 I should be clear that, for this author, exile takes on many forms. Some characters choose to leave Lebanon as a result of the Lebanese Civil War. Others are pushed away because of familial confl ict, career, or sexuality-a set of narratives that correspond with what we usually term ‘displacement.’ In critical discussion, this displacement and exile takes center stage as a way to understand the fi ction’s critiques of Lebanon, the United States, or the condition of exile itself.