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In the Eye of the Sun
     

In the Eye of the Sun

4.5 2
by Ahdaf Soueif
 

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Set amidst the turmoil of contemporary Middle Eastern politics, this vivid and highly-acclaimed novel by an Egyptian journalist is an intimate look into the lives of Arab women today. Here, a woman who grows up among the Egyptian elite, marries a Westernized husband, and, while pursuing graduate study, becomes embroiled in a love affair with an uncouth Englishman.

Overview

Set amidst the turmoil of contemporary Middle Eastern politics, this vivid and highly-acclaimed novel by an Egyptian journalist is an intimate look into the lives of Arab women today. Here, a woman who grows up among the Egyptian elite, marries a Westernized husband, and, while pursuing graduate study, becomes embroiled in a love affair with an uncouth Englishman.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Something of a landmark...a bold and important work. [This] is the first novel I know of that successfully renders an Arab, Egyptian Muslim reality in English. A tour de force."—Leila Ahmed, Washington Post Book World
"Raw, accurate, searing....Soueif [is] one ofthe most extraordinary chroniclers of sexual politics now writing."—Edward Said, The Times Literary Supplement
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This densely detailed, richly textured novel impeccably recreates the milieus of Cairo, London and English university life as it recounts the maturing of Asya, a beautiful Egyptian who, by her own admission, ``feels more comfortable with art than with life.'' Soueif, a Londoner making her American debut, tells Asya's story cinematically, beginning in 1979 and going back to 1967, with chapters formally divided into scenes and a plethora of flashbacks, flash-forwards and different perspectives. During the course of those years, Asya, daughter of an intellectual Cairo family, falls in love with and marries Saif, a highly successful computer expert who indulges her with considerable luxuries. But the marriage is plagued by sexual problems; going to England to pursue a doctorate, Asya eventually takes up with Gerald, a pseudo-sensitive boor studying marketing. Finally, her marriage over, she returns to a very different and less hospitable Cairo than the one in which she grew up to begin a teaching career about which she is, at best, ambivalent. The author invests scenes of childhood with the burnished glow of fond memory; these are among the most poignant passages here. Her impressive and only slightly overlong novel, with its acutely observed vision of male-female relations as a series of complex power struggles, suggests the emergence of a major new talent. (June)
Library Journal
The war-torn Middle East is a dramatic backdrop for Asya's coming of age. A beautiful Egyptian of wealth and privilege, she is untouched by the wars and turmoil around her and instead focuses on her future husband, Saif, and on her single-minded pursuit of a Ph.D. But Saif's computer business keeps him isolated in the Syrian desert, and Asya's Ph.D. grant lands her in a grim English university where chilly weather and chillier people prevail. Frustrated in marriage and career, she casts about, surviving a disastrous affair and eventually growing into ``complete possession of herself.'' Soueif's novel is an impressive next step forward in time from Naguib Mahfouz's ``Cairo Trilogy'' (e.g., Palace of Desire , LJ 1/91). Its structure, characters, and unique blend of clashing cultures and politics make it an important addition to any collection.-- Paul E. Hutchison, Bellefonte, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385720373
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/2000
Pages:
816
Sales rank:
1,125,424
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.70(d)

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In the Eye of the Sun 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really did enjoy reading this book--Soueif's masterful descriptions and fascinating characters make this easy--however, I found that I really did not sympathize much with the protagonist, Asya. I should have, though. Asya is growing up in the 70s in a Muslim country that is experiencing internal and external political turmoil. Asya was not raised as a traditional Muslim; her parents are intellectuals who seem to merely go through the motions where their religious lives are concerned. They seem more worried about following social constructs than religious ones. Not that there's anything wrong with that, per se. However, it does seem to cripple Asya in some ways, as she is too high and mighty to be really Egyptian, yet she is too Egyptian to be truly European. She doesn't understand what she wants to be, let alone what she should be. She looks to her mother, girlfriends, and husband for guidance, but each gives a different answer. Plus, she has no internal moral compass to guide her. She was bound to let someone down, including the reader, who comes to want nothing but the best for her in her life. That said, this novel was amazing. Soueif was really able to capture this character well, as well as the other characters. But you should be careful not to mistake the Egyptian characters of Asya's family and friends in her social stratum as typical Egyptians. But I found myself longing for a different story as I read this one--a story of devout Muslim people trying to live Muslim, Arabic lives in a changing country, a changing world. The characters in this novel are very Western in their thoughts and desires--a result of years of occupation by Western nations. What's more, the narrator and Asya both appear to have contempt for devout Muslims and for country people, and they look to Europe for all things civilized and proper, and from what I've read, that is not an unusual opinion for modern Egyptians of the upper classes. How unfortunate they seem to me as I consider the pyramids...
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book addresses the internal as well as the social conflicts that arab women face at home or abroad when exposed to the western ideas or simply struggling with their internal natural impulses. This book will give you an insight into the arabic way of living and will highlight the stuggles of women in that part of the world.