Amira El-Zein is an Associate Professor at GU-Q, author of Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn (Syracuse University Press, 2009) and the co-editor of Culture, Creativity and Exile (Kitab Publications, 2003). She is also a published poet in Arabic, French, and English. El-Zein is also a translator in Arabic, French, and English. Among her numerous translations: Les Tarahumaras of Antonin Artaud (from French into Arabic), Malraux par lui-même by Gaeton Picon (from French into Arabic), and a co-translation of the poetry of Mahmud Darwish in Unfortunately it Was Paradise (California University Press, 2006). El-Zein is the author of more than a dozen articles published in refereed journals. She has authored several book chapters on an ample range of topics including but not limited to Sufism in medieval and contemporary Islam, Francophone literature, Arabian Nights, and contemporary Arabic poetry and fiction. El-Zein’s work has been featured at Voice of America, NPR, PBS, and several Arab satellites, including Aljazeera.
During her fellowship, El-Zein worked on a project titled, “Contemporary Saudi Literature: The Grueling Adaption to Modernity.” The research argues that contemporary Saudi literature conveys the dilemma of Saudi society torn between fascination with everything Western and obligations to unbending traditions. The question of tradition in its extremely arduous adaptation to rapid changes has led to a profound malaise, loss of identity, and confusion, which are characteristic of neocolonialism. The research interprets several novels and poems that mirror the ordeals Saudi people experience when they challenge the harsh rules of the establishment. Comparisons were made between Saudi literature and that written by other authors in the Gulf.