Coronavirus: A Literary Perspective from the Arab World

Author: Manal Almehaidly, University of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia
Published: November 24, 2023

Citation: Almehaidly, M. (2023). Coronavirus: A Literary Perspective from the Arab World. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 12(2).


The Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on all aspects of human life, including the way we experience and represent reality. One of the most striking aspects of the pandemic has been the widespread documentation of scenes of chaos and suffering. These scenes have been captured on news footage and social media posts and have been shared widely around the world. While these images provide a glimpse into the reality of the pandemic, they often fail to capture the full emotional and psychological impact of the experience. In contrast, literature has a long history of representing the hidden impact of pandemics and catastrophes on the psyche of individuals and communities. From Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) to Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), the novel, in particular, has offered a valuable and perceptive understanding of the pandemic experience. In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, a surge of literary responses emerged from novelists around the world. This paper aims to map how the pandemic outbreak unfolds in the Arabic novel. It investigates how Arab novelists make meaning of COVID-19 by examining prevalent themes and recurrent structures in their works. The focus is on four major Arab novels: Muhamad bin Muhamad Salem’s Ala’ib Khalid ma’ Korona (Khalid’s Games with Corona, 2020); Wasini Alaraj’s Layliat Ramada (Ramada’s Nights, 2021); Jasem Salman’s Korona: Alhub wa Alharb (Corona: Love and War, 2021); Sakina Aldakhil’s Nawbet Amal (A Fit of Hope, 2021).


Arabic novel, pandemic fiction, pandemic literature, COVID-19