Pillars of Salt by Fadia Faqir
Pillars of Salt is the story of two women confined in a mental hospital in Jordan during and after the British Mandate. Maha, a peasant woman from the Jordan Valley, and Um Saad from Amman find themselves sharing a room. After initial tensions they become friends and share their life stories.
Maha's version of history, which is told from the inside, is framed by the narrative of the storyteller who reports as an outsider. Maha's husband Harb was the love of her life but her devition to him does not survive the repression and violence of her husband bringing home a young new wife, Yusra.
The intricate structure of the novel with its different voices and interlacing narrative lines conforms to the ancient tradition of storytelling in Arabia. Both Muslim and Christian theological sources are used to create a mythical woman who is subjugated and confined by society. The apocalyptic vision of the novel refers to the continuing repression of Arab women whose daily contribution to the economy and struggle to survive in a male-dominated society have largely been neglected.