Albert Swissa’s novel Aqud (Bound), upon its publication in 1991, changed the face of Israeli literature. His writing broke with many norms in Israeli fiction, unsettling the divide between the sacred and the profane while advancing a disturbing, unstable brand of ethnic and class politics. Aqud is one of very few novels in Hebrew-language literature to vividly imagine a social setting composed of Israel’s largely Mizrahi urban underclass, more specifically North African immigrants in one of Jerusalem’s tenement projects. The cultural identity of the characters cuts across boundaries, entering Israeli, Franco-Maghrebian, Arab, African and Berber territory; the novel also complexly explores the gender and sexuality of the young adolescent male and female protagonists. The unique style of his Hebrew defies categorization, oscillating between intensely picturesque description, and modernist, Kabbalist and other sacred registers.
Sponsored by: OVPR, Near Eastern Studies, Comparative Literature, Zell Writer’s Series, Rackham, International Institute, Mediterranean Topographies, IRWG, Institute for the Humanities, National Center for Institutional Diversity, CMENAS, University of Michigan Hillel, Context for Classics, Romance Languages and Literatures, DAAS, American Culture, Arab-American Studies.