"These life histories present some of the most extensive, direct, and intimate nonfictional portraits of Middle Eastern women available in English. . . . These accounts convey the distinctive personalities of each of the women, with their feelings, thoughts, customs, and strategies for coping with difficulties."—The Middle East Journal
"Fascinating reading; the reader is caught up in these simple and powerful stories in which enjoyment and learning are synonymous."—The Muslim World
"This book should prove riveting to anytime interested m the human element of Egyptian life and customs. A first-class piece of social anthropology which deserves a wide audience."—Arab Book World
"Contains a stunning selection of photographs most of which were taken by Asma El-Bakry, a prize -winning Egyptian film maker of remarkable talent and sensitivity. The photographs both enhance the text and have value all their own."—Cario Today
“Our people prefer boys, because a girl’s life is difficult. It’s difficult in every sore of family and among all nationalities. A girl’s life is not like a man’s life. She has no assurance of being happy in her marriage. And her main purpose in life is to marry and to have children. A girl’s and a woman’s lives are a trial whatever happens. I don’t know why.”—Om Gad
Their stories are fresh and vivid, recording the various roles of being co-wife in a polygamous marriage, the complications of divorce, the rituals of female circumcision and marriage, the loss of children, life-long hate and its source, the position of witchcraft and superstition in their daily lives, primitive health practices, and managing a family’s meager resources, including the gold or silver khul-khaal anklets worn by married women.
These self-portraits are fascinating reading and a mine of information for anyone interested in understanding contemporary Egyptian life. A foreword by anthropologist Andrea Rugh and photographs by Asma el-Bakry are included.
Nayra Atiya is a UNICEF prize-winning author and oral historian. She has translated a number of works, including the novels, Ramza and Zanouba, both by Out el Kouloub and published by Syracuse University Press.
6 x 9, 208 pages