I apologize for the lack of structure in my post today, but I had a number of different items that I wanted to discuss with you.
For anyone who is interested, Lauren who blogs at Underneath a Book has offered her copy of God Dies by the Nile to anyone who is interested.
She mentioned in a comment on the introduction post to send her an email if you are interested. I found a link to her email address on her profile page. (This copy has been spoken for already!) Thank you so much for helping out this month Lauren! (You can also check out her thoughts on the book while you are at it.)
Christina of The Blue Bookcase also offered her copy up to another participant this month (this copy was already spoken for) so I want to say a huge thank you to her as well. I love the sharing that is going on, especially for this title which sadly isn’t available free online.
I want to talk briefly about my effort to read more works by and learn more about Nawal El Saadawi. To this extent I recently finished Woman at Point Zero which was really another really interesting book. It was similar to God Dies by the Nile in that it explores issues of corruption, violence against women, and the lack of rights held by women in Egypt. It was completely different, however, in that the story is narrated by an unnamed psychiatrist who visits a woman who is set to be executed the following morning. The bulk of the novel is the story of the woman in prison’s story, as told to the psychiatrist. I really liked how the story examined issues of women’s sexuality and liberation and the different ways in which women sell themselves.
Definitely a lot of food for thought in this book. I especially loved the way in which Saadawi uses repetition to show the ways in which Firdaus was constantly falling into the same traps. The use of repetition also underscores her slowly finding herself and learning to extricate herself from the situations in which she ended up. Although she starts off incredibly naive and trusting, she comes through the book to realize the folly of trust in anyone but herself. For more you can check out my review.
Lined up I have The Novel, Saadawi’s most recent publication, which I am hoping to read this week. I also just placed an order for The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World, and Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi. I am hoping that these two books show up soon so that I can read them and discuss them this month. I am also hoping to read the former this week. After reading two of her books and finding out more about her political activism online, I wanted to know more about Saadawi herself which is why I ordered her autobiography. I have a feeling that she is an author whose entire catalog I will be reading my way through in the coming months and years!
I received a really great email from a participant / follower, Cosima Green, about some points I made in the introductory post for this month. Cosima is reading Daughter of Isis and her points to me were about things that she had read in that book (this is a large part of why I ended up ordering the book myself, so thank you!). I had responded asking if Cosima would be willing to write a post but I haven’t received a response as of yet, so thought I would talk about it briefly here.
I learned what I talked about in the introduction on Saadawi and God Dies by the Nile from the introduction to that book, what I had seen online about political activism by Saadawi, and the Wikipedia entry. One thing that Wikipedia mentions and that I mentioned as well in the introduction is the fact that apparently she was raised by her father to be strong and independent. According to her biography, however, her father didn’t figure nearly as strongly in her life as her mother did. Rather, her mother was the largest influence on both her character, her life path, and her education.
Cosima mused (if I may paraphrase loosely what I really picked out of her discussion) on the fact that we identify strongly that fathers have more of a say over the lives of their children, and it is especially noteworthy when they value the education of their female children. But why is it that we then reward them and mark them down in the history books more than the woman who oftentimes (and in this case especially) had so much more of an influence? While her father was definitely an important figure in her upbringing, he wasn’t the most important, according to Saadawi but in direct contrast to what one can learn online.
First of all I have to say a huge thank you for emailing me about this because it was really interesting to read and to think on. I think that very interesting discussions could be had both about the ways in which we reward fathers for doing the minimum, and also the ways in which we disregard the exceptional deeds of mothers. Because the Wikipedia entry leans toward discussing her father, until this email I had no idea that her mother was so much more influential. I’m interested to know – what do you, the readers, think of this? Do you think there is a solution that would have us recognize both parents equally?