Probing Ghassan Kanafani’s Committed Fiction: A Study of Two Novellas

Lana Waleed, Fatima Muhaidat


Ghassan Kanafani’s commitment to the Palestinian cause is evident in his various works which handle the predicament of an exiled nation. This paper explores the exodus and its influence upon Palestinians in two of his novellas, All That’s Left to You (1966) and Returning to Haifa (1969). These novellas reflect the fragile position and fractured existence of two Palestinian families experiencing the tragic circumstances of the exodus and its consequences. Leaving homeland under life threatening conditions in the hope of finding peace only leads to a life of misery and uncertainty in refugee camps. Being silenced and marginalized, the exiled are further overwhelmed by feelings of shame and guilt. Loss of land, houses, and family members entails loss of happiness, peace and honor. Tormented by such negative feelings, their losses and their poor living conditions, Kanafani’s characters live in an unhealthy family atmosphere endangering their normal course of life, and rendering them emotionally disturbed. They find themselves disoriented, lonely, haunted by traumatic memories, and at a loss for words.  In fact, the exodus results in distorted sense of identity, disruptions of their family bonds as well as their normal connections to time, space and culture. Neither time nor the boundless horizon seems to bring hope or change for the better. Siding with the oppressed, dispossessed and displaced and speaking for them reflect Knafani’s love of justice, devotion, and care for the underprivileged.


Ghassan Kanafani; All That’s Left to You; Returning to Haifa; Exile; Fractured Family Life; Literary Commitment; Arabic Literature

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