£13.99 | $19.95
16 June 2007
198mm x 126mm
Middle East, Gender and Sexuality, Literature
God Dies by the Nile
Nawal El Saadawi
'People have become corrupt everywhere. You can search in vain for justice or true morality. They no longer exist.'
Kafr El Teen is a beautiful, sleepy village on the banks of the Nile. Yet at its heart it is tyrannical and corrupt. The Mayor, Sheikh Hamzawi of the mosque, and the Chief of the Village Guard are obsessed by wealth and use and abuse the women of the village, taking them as slaves, marrying them and beating them. Women have no choice and no power. Zakeya, an ordinary villager, works in the fields by the Nile and watches the world, squatting in the dusty entrance to her house, quietly accepting her fate. It is only when her nieces fall prey to the Mayor that Zakeya becomes enraged by the injustice of her society and possessed by demons. Where is the loving and peaceful God in whom Zakeya believes?
Nawal El Saadawi's classic attempt to square religion with a society in which women are respected as equals is as relevant today as ever.
'A quietly formidable achievement; its understated evocation of tragedy and strength in the face of victimization make it a graceful classic' - Women's Review
'Powerfully political' - Poetry Nation Review
'Nawal el Saadawi's achievement is to lay bare the thin flesh and huge passions of her characters' - West Indian Digest
'A searing indictment of corruption in traditional Islamic society.' - Banipal
Table of Contents
New Foreword by Nawal El Saadawi
About the Author:
Nawal El Saadawi was born in 1931, in a small village outside Cairo. Unusually, she and her brothers and sisters were educated together, and she graduated from the University of Cairo Medical School in 1955, specializing in psychiatry. For two years, she practiced as a medical doctor, both at the university and in her native Tahla.
From 1963 until 1972, Saadawi worked as Director General for Public Health Education for the Egyptian government. During this time, she also studied at Columbia University in New York, where she received her Master of Public Health degree in 1966. Her first novel Memoirs of a Woman Doctor was published in Cairo in 1958. In 1972, however, she lost her job in the Egyptian government as a result of political pressure. The magazine, Health, which she had founded and edited for more than three years, was closed down.
From 1973 to 1978 Saadawi worked at the High Institute of Literature and Science. It was at this time that she began to write, in works of fiction and non-fiction, the books on the oppression of Arab women for which she has become famous. Her most famous novel, Woman at Point Zero was published in Beirut in 1973. It was followed in 1976 by God Dies by the Nile and in 1977 by The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World.
In 1981 Nawal El Saadawi publicly criticized the one-party rule of President Anwar Sadat, and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned. She was released one month after his assassination. In 1982, she established the Arab Women's Solidarity Association, which was outlawed in 1991. When, in 1988, her name appeared on a fundamentalist death list, she and her second husband, Sherif Hetata, fled to the USA, where she taught at Duke University and Washington State University. She returned to Egypt in 1996.
In 2004 she presented herself as a candidate for the presidential elections in Egypt, with a platform of human rights, democracy and greater freedom for women. In July 2005, however, she was forced to withdraw her candidacy in the face of ongoing government persecution.
Nawal El Saadawi has achieved widespread international recognition for her work. She holds honorary doctorates from the universities of York, Illinois at Chicago, St Andrews and Tromso. Her many prizes and awards include the Great Minds of the Twentieth Century Prize, awarded by the American Biographical Institute in 2003, the North-South Prize from the Council of Europe and the Premi Internacional Catalunya in 2004 , and most recently she was the 2007 recipient in the US of The African Literature Association's Fonlon-Nichols Award, which is given annually to an African writer for excellence in creative writing and for contributions to the struggles for human rights and freedom of expression. . Her books have been translated into over 28 languages worldwide. They are taught in universities across the world.
She now works as a writer, psychiatrist and activist. Her most recent novel, entitled Al Riwaya was published in Cairo in 2004.
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