Lieux de mémoire, Transculturality, and Identity in Contemporary Arab American Fiction: the Case of Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account (2014)

Azeddine Lahmidi


Diasporic narratives, as is the case with Arab American fiction, are more often than not characterized by nostalgia, return to the origin, and self-fulfillment. Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account (2014) is, however, distinct for its being part and parcel of “petit récit”, as Loytard already put it, or little narratives that involve lieux de mémoire. This article then endeavours to discuss the myriad representations of sites of memory, namely the symbolic and the historical dimensions the novel implies. By tracing the embodiments of realms of memory in Lalami’s fictional memoir, the mobility of memory will be yet another point to be examined in a way to explicate how memory transcends geographical borders and undermines racial and ethnic differences. The aim is to account for the metaphoric travel of memory that is by far manifested in the plot. This paper seeks to argue for the fact that the novel is more like a carrier of memory and that memory is in essence the medium whereby culture moves beyond its local framework. It highlights the dynamics of memory and culture in that the narrative by itself exemplifies aspects of transcultural memory. With respect to the journey that the novel is entirely based on, the article aims to meticulously tackle how the issue of cultural identity has been played out that the non-linearity of identity, as being in a state of flux. In short, the dynamics of memory and identity on the ground of migration lie at centre of the discussion of the Moor’s Account which falls within postcolonial and diasporic narratives.



: Lieux de mémoire; little narratives; transcultural memory; journey; dynamics of memory; cultural identity.

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