Specters

Specters

by Radwa Ashour
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Winner of the Cairo International Book Fair Prize. Specters tells the story of Radwa and Shagar, two women born the same day. The narrative alternates between their childhoods, their work lives (one a professor of literature and the other of history), their married and unmarried lives, and their respective books. With her novel's structure, Ashour pays tribute to

See more details below

Overview

Winner of the Cairo International Book Fair Prize. Specters tells the story of Radwa and Shagar, two women born the same day. The narrative alternates between their childhoods, their work lives (one a professor of literature and the other of history), their married and unmarried lives, and their respective books. With her novel's structure, Ashour pays tribute to the Arab qareen (double or companion, and sometimes demon) and the ancient Egyptian ka (the spirit that is born with and accompanies an individual through life and beyond).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
The fates of two Egyptian women who grew up during the turbulent, nationalistic 1950s and participated in the revolutionary student movement of the early 1970s intertwine in Ashour's meandering autobiographical novel. The narrator, ostensibly the author "Radwa," born in 1946, returns to the time of her youth in Cairo, first in French grade school, then at Cairo University in the mid-1960s, by employing the parallel--and often intersecting--life of her character Shagar Abdel Ghaffar, a young woman born on the same day and year who attends the university as a history student and eventually becomes a professor. Shagar writes a book about the Israeli massacre at the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin that becomes the focus of Radwa's own research interest, which took the shape of Ashour's actual novel, Granada. The author draws pointed lessons from the defense of truth and intellectual freedom that Shagar stands for, though only American readers versed in recent Egyptian history will appreciate the nuances. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus Reviews

An esteemed Egyptian novelist and her fictional alter ego look back at the tumultuous past, reflecting on the resilience and deep-seated sorrow of the Palestinian people.

Part novel, part memoir, part historical/political screed and part rumination on the writing process, the book,first published in Arabic in 1999, is a literary juggling act. To start with, it is a first-person novel by and about Radwa, a professor of literature, called Specters. Inside that novel, a history teacher, Shagar, is writing a nonfiction history book, also called Specters. Ashour also intrudes directly to remark on the storytelling process, and the intersections of fiction and reality, past and present. There are enough plot elements, and enough leaps back and forth in time, for an epic film: civil disobedience, imprisonments, hospitalizations, assassinations, suicides, Kafkaesque bureaucracies, love, romance and exile. The focal point for both Radwa and Shagar is a tragic 1948 incident in which dozens of civilians in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin were brutally killed by Israeli paramilitary forces. Like other violence perpetrated in the book, it is referred to as a massacre, a judgment with which some but not all historical accounts agree. The sense of loss and mistreatment that permeates the pages is deep, and the author's outrage is frequently justified. But by writing of Israelis and Jews in general with great anger and disgust (Ariel Sharon is described as "the fat man who loved dogs but hated Arabs"), while making no mention of the terrorism inflicted on them by Palestinians for decades, Ashour loses sympathy and credibility. For all the energy and ingenuity that went into the complicated structure, the design achieves little. At various points, the author only confuses the reader as to which character is doing what at a given time.

An expansive and heartfelt but overly random novel-cum-historical account.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566568326
Publisher:
Interlink Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date:
10/01/2010
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,477,109
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >