The Text Worlds of Umayma Al-Khamis’s “Waiting for Hayla” and “Restoration”
In light of the rapid development and changes that are becoming prevalent in the region, revisiting short stories written by the Saudi author Umayma Al-Khamis in the anthology Arab Women Writers (2005; trans. Cohen-Mor) provides a point of contrast and discussion of the societal role of the Arab woman in the post-modern world. The texts chosen for analysis are part of an anthology that aims to “introduce the English reader to the Arab Woman’s ways of life” (Cohen-Mor 2). This paper utilises Text World Theory as a cognitive poetic framework to analyse the two short stories, “Waiting for Hayla” and “Restoration.” Whereas the short stories in the collection were translated into English for a Western audience, the world-building triggered by the text depends on some knowledge and recognition of the cultural assumptions of the Saudi society. This analysis shows that the texts can also be read as absurdist due to the shared themes of existentialism and futility of existence in them, which rely on the world-building elements more than the limited cultural knowledge provided by the text.
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