Shammas is a Palestinian whose 1986 novel, Arabesques, written in Hebrew, won several international awards and was a best-seller in Israel. In addition to his Hebrew fiction, Shammas has published several volumes of poetry in Arabic and numerous articles in English.
We did not know what to expect when we first conceived the idea of devoting an issue of Michigan Quarterly Review to the Middle East, Shammas says. We only knew then that since the fall of 1992 would be totally consumed by the Quincentennial, we might as well turn our attention toward those Muslims and Jews who did not make it to the Santa Maria, and were left behind.
For the Western imagination, 1492 is a year of discovery or, rather, of invention; a year of new beginnings, new thinking about the world and about the Western imaginations place within that world, Shammas says. In this sense, this special issue, evoking the fates of wandering Moors, Jews and Palestinians, vindicates an alternative Quincentennial, and humbly proposesas critical theorists would say in earnestan alternative to the hegemonic Western narrative.
The issue, which includes stories, poems, essays, interviews and criticism of modern Hebrew and Arabic literature, is available from the MQR offices, 3032 Rackham Building, and at local bookstores.