The complex novel of one woman’s joys and sacrifices for love In this prize-winning novel, Nahid is a woman determined to go on a journey of self discovery and understanding. As we accompany her in her sometimes delirious, sometimes lucid journey, we are given rare glimpses of the inner thoughts and feelings of a woman confronting questions of love and intimacy within and outside of marriage. It is a story of one woman’s quest for liberation, not from a repressive society or a male-dominated world—that is easy and has been done many times before—but from self-imposed taboos that inhibit a woman’s ability to find fulfillment and to confront the many imponderables surrounding sexuality, desire, and love.
Stuck—by conscious choice to keep up the genteel appearances of her middle-class family—in a loveless marriage to Mustafa, the forty-something Nahid finds love and sex with novelist and journalist Omar—himself trapped in a loveless, but not sexless, marriage to Maggie. Although their love story is at the very heart of the novel, we are given broad glimpses of the larger picture of the world outside through Nahid’s work as an archaeologist and Omar’s as a journalist.
The novel was well received by women readers, critics, and reviewers and by a majority of the male audience, while a vociferous minority of male critics felt scandalized by it, finding it unseemly that such issues should be raised by a woman. Now English readers can judge for themselves.
Born in Cairo in 1954, Hala El Badry graduated from Cairo University and is now deputy editor-in-chief of Egypt’s radio and television magazine. A Certain Woman, her fourth novel, was awarded the prize for best novel of 2001 at the Cairo International Book Fair.
Farouk Abdel Wahab was Ibn Rushd Professorial Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Chicago. He was the translator of many works of Arabic fiction, including Hala El Badri’s Rain over Baghdad (AUC Press, 2014). He won the 2007 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of The Lodging House, by Khairy Shalaby (AUC Press pbk, 2008). He died in 2013.
“A Certain Woman contributes to the growing body of imaginative literature written by Arab women and translated into English. The translation of this novel is alliterative, poetic, and strikingly vivid.”—Al Jadid
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