Out el Kouloub’s Ramza is the story of one woman’s rebellion against her life in the harem of a wealthy Egyptian family at the turn of the century. Although she flourishes in this world, secure in the safety it provides, she comes to despise its constraints. In describing her growing awareness of the life of women in her elite milieu, Ramza paints an intimate portrait of harem life, including the methods employed by the wives and concubines to ensure the power they seek for themselves and their children. Ramza is drawn to books, music, and eventually to the men’s quarter. She dares to express her physical, social, and sexual repression.
The novel is a heartfelt dramatization of a piece of Egyptian feminine and feminist history set at a time when Egyptian women were struggling to come forward. It was originally published by Gallimard Press in France in 1958.
Out El Kouloub (1899-1968) fled Cairo in the early 1960s after Nasser came to power. She is the author of five books including Ramza and Zanouba.
Nayra Atiya is the author of Khul-Khaal: Fin Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories, also published by Syracuse University Press.
5.5 x 8.5, 232 pages