Memoirs from the Women's Prison / Edition 1

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Overview

Often likened to Rigoberta Menchu and Nadine Gordimer, Nawal El Saadawi is one of the world's leading feminist authors. Director of Health and Education in Cairo, she was summarily dismissed from her post in 1972 for her political writing and activities.
In 1981 she was imprisoned by Anwar Sadat for alleged "crimes against the State" and was not released until after his assassination.

Memoirs from the Women's Prison offers both firsthand witness to women's resistance to state violence and fascinating insights into the formation of women's community. Saadawi describes how political prisoners, both secular intellectuals and Islamic revivalists, forged alliances to demand better conditions and to maintain their sanity in the confines of their cramped cell.

Saadawi's haunting prose makes Memoirs an important work of twentieth-century literature. Recognized as a classic of prison writing, it touches all who are concerned with political oppression, intellectual freedom, and personal dignity.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this highly literary, Kafkaesque account, Saadawi, an Egyptian feminist, doctor, activist and author of books on female sexuality, recalls her imprisonment in 1981 for ``attack[ing] the ruling system''. While her case was investigated, Saadawi spent 22 days in jail, getting out when President Sadat was assassinated. In meticulous detail and understated language, she describes nightmarish experiences in a tomb-like women's cell with other political prisoners-both intellectuals and Islamic fundamentalists. She observes, ``Time and the wall have merged into one. The air is motionless. Nothing moves around me except the cockroaches and rats, as I lie on a thin rubber mattress which gives off the odour of old urine, my empty handbag placed under my head.'' There is an honest, reflective quality to her writing, and her plight evokes outrage and sympathy. Yet there is a certain paranoia as well, that of someone on the far left who viewed Islamic extremists as allies in the fight for national unity against a government controlled by foreigners, someone who volunteered to fight with Palestinian guerillas in Jordan and saw herself as being victimized because of her opposition to Sadat's policies of peace with Israel. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520088887
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/18/1994
  • Series: Literature of the Middle East Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 1,439,744
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nawal El Saadawi is an Egyptian feminist, socialist, medical doctor, novelist, and author of a classic work on women in Islam, The Hidden Face of Eve (1982). She presently teaches at Duke University. Marilyn Booth is an independent scholar affiliated with the University of Illinois and a freelance translator. Her recent translations include Stories by Egyptian Women: My Grandmother's Cactus.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I The Arrest 1
Pt. II Prison 27
Pt. III Piercing the Blockade 133
Pt. IV Out to the Investigation 142
Pt. V The Death of Sadat 169
Pt. VI The Final Part 195
Afterword for the American Edition 199
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