Book Size: 5.25" x 8"

Pages: 256

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781566567329

Imprint: Interlink Books

Edition: 1

Translator: Omnia Amin and Rick London


The Novel


$ 15

“[B]eautiful… She writes about the city and sky above it, like a woman deeply in love with the physical world.” — Alan Cheuse on NPR’s All Things Considered


About this book

"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 this "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 Rostum, 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.


About the author

Nawal El Saadawi is the author of Woman at Point Zero, God Dies by the Nile, and The Hidden Face of Eve, and nearly forty other works of fiction, non-fiction, drama, and memoir, which have been translated into more than thirty languages.

For over four decades, she has been Egypt’s most prominent feminist activist; she has survived prison, death threats, and the government shutdown of her Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and magazines she edited. She lived in exile for a number of years, and taught at and received honorary degrees from universities and colleges all over the world.


“[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

“[A] novel within a novel, which follows the life of a young female writer as her life intertwines with the lives of the famous writer Roustum, his wife Carmen, and poet called Miriam. In her tenth novel, El Saadawi gives the reader a deeply felt exploration of the nature of identity, fame, writing and freedom.” — Banipal

“With a unique approach, Nawal El Saadawi introduces us to the world of a budding young female writer ‘In her search for words to put on paper, the “young woman’ encounters many artistic people- writers, poets, freedom groups and more. Poverty, adulterous sex, forbidden love, scorn for religious strictures, dirt behind political maneuvering and mingling of the high and low social classes- all are covered here! Most of the people she encounters wish to influence her and impress upon her their own points of view of how to write and what it is to be a writer” Although profound is an often overused word, its use is completely appropriate to describe this book. The story covers many touchy subjects that are taboo in the Muslim world. Reading this book makes you think, makes you question the traditions and lets you see some of the turmoil of what it is like to be a writer under such oppressed conditions.” — Rhonda Esakov,

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