(The Mediterranean Sea: Crossroads of cultures and ḥarraga in a short story by the Tunisian Fāṭimah al-Aḫḍar)
in La rivista di Arablit, a. IV, n. 7-8, dicembre 2014, pp. 44-56.
Over the millennia, the routes of the Mediterranean Sea have been crossroads of an intense commercial and cultural exchange, which favoured both the enrichment of Mediterranean economies and the openness to other cultures. Today the same routes are used for a nefarious business: human traffic. In fact, in the last decades, the Mediterranean has been crossed by makeshift boats with thousands of Arabs and Africans – men, women and children – who have risked their lives in order to make their dream of a better future in Europe come true. Arabic literature, especially in the Maghreb, has extensively documented this phenomenon establishing a new literary genre, dealing with the drama of the so-called ḥarraga, as these illegal immigrants are called. Among several literary texts describing the pains and hopes of ḥarraga, either in a satirical manner or in a dramatic style, this article will examine Ǧinān al-ǧaḥīm (The Gardens of Hell), a long short story (qiṣṣah ṭawīlah) by Tunisian writer Fāṭimah al-Aḫḍar.
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