The Novel by Nawal El Saadawi
"[B]eautiful... She writes about the city and sky above it, like a woman deeply in love with the physical world. "The sun shone in Barcelona" she tells us. "Everything blooms in Barcelona in the springtime: the eyes of kittens, the virgins of the east, migrating birds. The sky is transparent blue." As for her depiction of Cairo, you feel as she describes it, "the same heat from thousands of years ago. From the first Pharaoh to the last one." You feel the life of this novel too, of The Novel, of all the great novels. "
--Alan Cheuse on NPR's All Things Considered
"The novel caused tremendous outrage."
So begins Nawal El Saadawi's tenth novel. And indeed, when the famous Egyptian psychiatrist and writer released The Novel in 2005, it was banned all over the Arab world. But the novel inside The Novel is by a young woman--a woman who is only 23 years old, who has "no family, no university degree, no national identity card," whose name does not appear on the "lists of prominent women writers." A woman, that is, whose biography is as unlike Saadawi's own as possible, as if she has stripped herself of all the effects of her own worldly existence to explore something earlier, more elemental, than the political work for which she is so well known.
In following the life of this young, unnamed, woman writer as it intersects with those of a famous writer named Roustum, his wife Carmen, and a poet called Miriam, El Saadawi gives us a deeply felt exploration of the nature of identity, of fame, of writing, and of freedom.