Bloomsbury voicing the Gulf
: translated contemporary Gulf writers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In exploring the conditions of knowledge production within the literary marketplace, I focus on the establishment of the now dissolved Bloomsbury QFP as a pioneering regional publishing house in the Gulf. Visualized as an agent of Joseph Nye’s definition of soft power as the ability to affect through attraction and persuasion, BQFP was envisioned as having the potential to serve the nation’s creation and accumulation of literary capital. Realistically, however, it represents a Eurocentric cultural gatekeeper. This thesis will analyse texts by Gulf writers that were originally published in Arabic and then translated into English by BQFP to compare the narratives voiced by the texts with the meta-narrative envisioned by BQFP. By a close analysis of the fiction, I explore why the choices of the texts translated and published may have led to the partnership ending. Through conducting a study of the literary representation of the Gulf and Gulf identity as presented by BQFP publications I argue that despite the exoticized orientalised image of the Gulf within the novels, the texts still resist disparity, divisions and contradictions. The texts show Khaldunian tribalism, though redefined, performs exclusion on regional, international, ideological, and financial levels. The reading of Yousef Al-Mohaimeed’s Where Pigeons Don’t Fly (2014), speaks against the abuse of religious power, an ideological asabiyyah, that arose partly due to the1979 siege of Makkah. Abdo Khal’s Throwing Sparks (2015) exposes the post-oil issues of poverty and corruption through a version of dark exoticism. Laila Al- Johani’s Days of Ignorance (2014) equates both the current regional scene and the global political order to the pre-Islamic climate of thought known as Jahiliyya. The final chapter reads Saud Al-Sanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk (2016) to examine the text’s critique of marginalization, and of forced political displacement in the Gulf through the issue of the bidoons (the stateless).
Date of Award1 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAnna Bernard (Supervisor) & Ruvani Ranasinha (Supervisor)

Cite this