Chronotope and the Construction of Hybrid Identity in Leila Aboulela's Novel The Kindness of Enemies

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Rehab Hassan
Mahmoud Hasan


In Leila Aboulela's novel The Kindness of Enemies, two narratives of displacement are interlinked. Aboulela links a contemporary narrative and a historical narrative in a firmly time/place oriented novel. Each part of the narrative is divided into chapters with an all-encompassing title. Some of the chapters recount the contemporary narrative, while others recount the historical narrative. The shift from one narrative to the other is marked with time/place entry at the beginning of each chapter. Readers are continuously oriented in one narrative or the other. The alternating chronotopes do not only mark the shift between two historical periods, they also mark the shift between multiple world views. In the contemporary narrative Natasha, the main character and the narrator, is a Sudanese-Scottish academic. She lives in Aberdeen. Despite her determination to be assimilated, Natasha's hybrid identity hinders her full assimilation. The historical narrative invokes the figure of Imam Shamil, the muslim leader who unified the Caucasus against the Russian invasion. In the historical narrative Aboulela allows each displaced character to view the world from the side of the enemy. A very complicated question is posed as the narrative unfolds in The Kindness of Enemies: who are the enemies? The chronotopic representation of characters in the novel will be discussed in order to highlight the role Aboulela’s choices of time and place play in the construction of the hybrid identity of the main characters.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial and Neocolonial Experiences