Zeina by Nawal El Saadawi

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Synopsis

Bodour, a distinguished literary critic, carries with her a dark secret. As a young university student, she fell in love with a political activist and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Zeina, whom she abandoned on the streets of Cairo. Zeina grows up to become one of Egypt's most beloved entertainers, despite being deprived of a family name and a home. Bodour in turn remains trapped in a loveless marriage, pining for her daughter and lost love. In an attempt to find solace, she writes a fictionalised account of her life, which then mysteriously gets stolen. Set against the backdrop of revolution in Cairo, Zeina is a tale about regret, loss and the courage it takes for a mother to face up to the mistakes of her past. 'Read this novel to grasp the bravery of El Saadawi's activism in Egypt or to learn more about her country than we saw on our TV screens this spring...' Guardian 'An uncompromising attack on patriarchy, power and hypocrisy in modern-day Egypt' The Times 'More than any other woman, El Saadawi has come to embody the trials of Arab feminism.' San Francisco Chronicle 'Nawal El Saadawi is a formidable force in the international world of literature.' Philip Womack, New Humanist 'El Saadawi writes with directness and passion.' New York Times 'A poignant and brave writer' Marie Claire

 

About Nawal El Saadawi

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Egyptian novelist, doctor and militant writer on Arab women's problems and their struggle for liberation, Nawal el Saadawi was born in the village of Kafr Tahla. Refusing to accept the limitations imposed by both religious and colonial oppression on most women of rural origin, she qualified as a doctor in 1955 and rose to become Egypt's Director of Public Health. Since she began to write over 30 years ago, her books have concentrated on women. In 1972, her first work of non fiction, Women and Sex, evoked the antagonism of highly placed political and theological authorities, and the Ministry of Health was pressurised into dismissing her. Under similar pressures she lost her post as Chief Editor of a health journal and as Assistant General Secretary in the Medical Association in Egypt. From 1973 to 1976 she worked on researching women and neurosis in the Ain Shams University's Faculty of Medicine; and from 1979 to 1980 she was the United Nations Advisor for the Women's Programme in Africa (ECA) and Middle East (ECWA). Later in 1980, as a culmination of the long war she had fought for Egyptian women's social and intellectual freedom, an activity that had closed all avenues of official jobs to her, she was imprisoned under the Sadat regime. She has since founded the Arab Women's Solidarity Association and devoted her time to being a writer, journalist and worldwide speaker on women's issues. With the publication by Zed Books in 1980 of The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World, English language readers were first introduced to the work of this major writer. Zed Books has also published four of her previous novels, Woman at Point Zero (1983), God Dies by the Nile (1985), The Circling Song (1989) and Searching (1991) as well as a collection of her non-fiction writings The Nawal El Saadawi Reader (1997). She has received three literary awards.
 
Published August 20, 2011 by Saqi Books. 267 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Zeina

Publishers Weekly

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The latest from El Saadawi (Woman at Point Zero), seamlessly translated by Nowaira, will haunt readers with its beautiful prose and harsh depiction of women's lives in Cairo. Flowing from present into

Sep 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Zeina

The Guardian

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El Saadawi's training as a psychiatrist perhaps helped her to write this disturbing, oneiric novel in which the sanity of Bodour, a well-to-do Egyptian woman, gives way to frightening psychosis.

Jun 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Zeina

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