CRIME FICTION AS A LENS FOR POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CRITIQUE IN THE MODERN ARAB WORLD: ELIAS KHOURY’S WHITE MASKS AND YASMINA KHADRA’S MORITURI
This thesis argues that Morituri by Yasmina Khadra and White Masks by Elias Khoury use the genre of the detective novel as a pretext for social and political critique of Algeria and Lebanon respectively. This thesis links the generic (crime fiction) and the conceptual (Political and Social Critique in Modern Arab World). While the detective novel is traditionally thought of as a non-academic, entertaining part of popular culture, the use of the genre to critique the failure of nation building after colonization elevates the genre and transforms it from mere entertainment to a more serious genre. Both novels are emblematic of a shift in the use of the detective and crime novel to address the political disarray in their respective states and the Arab world as a whole. As modern examples of detective novels in the modern Arab world, Morituri and White Masks transform the genre through their complex interweaving of aspects of the popular genre of detective fiction with the more serious political novel. The historical and political context of both countries at the time of the novels’ settings are an intrinsic part of understanding the crimes and the obfuscation of the perpetrator. In both of these novels, the technical and generic aspects are connected to the thematic, and the detective novel structure is not just there for suspense and entertainment. Instead, this structure points to the neocolonial system, benefitting the most powerful and the most affluent at the expense of the weak, poor, and disadvantaged.