Transcending Borders: The Use of Sufi Lore and Mysticism in Zeyn Joukhadar’s The Thirty Names of Night


Ghassan  Abou-Zeineddine (University of Michigan, Dearborn)

In his novel The Thirty Names of Night (2020), Arab American author Zeyn Joukhadar challenges heteronormative notions of gender and sexuality in contemporary American society through the symbolic use of Sufi lore and mysticism. In my paper, I argue that the allusion in The Thirty Names of Night to Farid Ud-Din Attar’s 12-century Persian poem "The Conference of the Birds" serves to establish a narrative framework by which the search through truth is not spiritual but rather one of self-acceptance. I point out that the protagonist’s ultimate acceptance of his transgender identity operates as his spiritual awakening.

Part of 21-04 Intersections of Knowledge and Belief, Speaking and Writing, Tuesday, October 19, 9:30 am–11:00 am