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Women Of Sand And Myrrh (1992)

Women of Sand and Myrrh (1992)
3.19 of 5 Votes: 1
0385423586 (ISBN13: 9780385423588)
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Women Of Sand And Myrrh (1992)
Women Of Sand And Myrrh (1992)

About book: The first time he asked how to say 'good morning' in English and American and found they were the same, he exclaimed in surprise, 'Praise the Lord! They're the same as each other inside and out!'Whenever I see a book by a woman of color with a super low rating and/or reviews littered all over with a variation on the theme of "didn't like the characters = main reason for not liking the book", I sigh and crack my fingers and pull on my gloves. More often than not this "didn't like the characters" business translates to "didn't understand the book", and since the author's neither white nor male she doesn't get the benefit of the doubt of "oh I didn't understand so the fault must be with me and the book will still get a shiny high rating", bending the sentiment of Catholic guilt into such an impressive cross-categorization of peer-pressured faith that it's as much a marvel as it is a goddamn annoyance. Seriously, though. What's not to like about the characters? What could possibly sideline that unspoken taboo of not shitting on a book cause the main character's a rapist/murderer/pedophile/accomplice of genocide/midlife crisis white boy with a penchant for boundary violation and really pitiful attempts at philosophy? You tell me.The front cover says The Handmaid's Tale, which is associative in one sense and really insulting in a more important other. A review on this site compares this to Woolf, which I have to thank both for my moment of "Aha!" and the resulting fruitful pursuit. See, the narrative viewpoint in this is super super close first person that switches enough to keep one on one's claustrophobic toes, sidewinding through each character in such a way that jostles complicatedly enough against sociopolitical anathema for extremely complex discussion. I'm probably forgetting some main academic tenet or another, but a great deal of Modernism in the likes of Loy and co. felt akin to that same breed: solipsistic yet glancing, covert yet nakedly revealing, plotless yet so entrenched in the train of one at a time self-reflecting minds that it's nigh impossible to look away. Add in the "unnamed desert state" (most likely Saudi Arabia), characters that have no time for pandering to reader's views of "nice" when there's flesh and blood to live out, and a culture clash that the further one gets one will begin to make sense of whether they like it or not, and you get this modern psychological thing that's about as centered around feminism as The Golden Notebook.I originally started reading this so as to counterbalance the happy-go-lucky archetypes that show up without fail in nearly every one of the The Arabian Nights. There's some of that, as well masculine romanticism succumbing to the late 20th century realities of STDs, sexual awakenings of the queer variety counterbalanced with mental stagnancy to the extreme, whatever the -phile term is for the Middle East when it comes to white US women escaping their issues with suburbia, and some really strong overtones of Rebecca in the last parts. Not the unnamed second wife, mind you. The one who wouldn't play by the rules and, here in this novel, is hellbent on staying alive and kicking for however long it takes to get what she wants. Dislike the first person pov characters all you like, but I can easily imagine all of them skateboarding in a burqa towards their intended destination. One of them may come to this conclusion by the tenets of Islam, another by memories of the land of Tony Hawk, but it's not as simple as an "Arab woman surmounts oppression" headline. It never is, of course, but this really drives it home.I wonder if some readers didn't like this cause they've nursed fantasies of what it would be like to be female and obscenely rich in the land the pages of this book describe. Or maybe they expected a single tone of stoic endurance or Oriental escapade instead of bits of humor and pieces of overwhelming horror and a psychological immersion that never ever quits. Ah well. Whatever the case, this is very much a "modern" novel, where the Itches That Must Not Be Scratched are scratched, the results of said scratching are recoiled from in favor of social conformation, and the scratcher lives long enough to repeat ad nauseam. Thank god for politics and the Internet, amiright? I pictured myself sitting in front of the television explaining to Batul and my aunt and my mother what was really going on in the foreign films: the woman whom Mr Rochester kept shut away in Jane Eyre was his mad wife, not his mother.

It took me a while to pin down my feelings for this book. It raises so many, it was really hard to wade through them all and work out what I thought of the book as a whole.The book is 4 intertwining stories about 4 different women within a very strict, restrictive Islamic society within the Middle East. The best I can find is Saudi Arabia is probably the closest with these restrictions. I loved that this was from the women's perspective which gave us an insight into a world half of us would never see.The book is split into 4 parts, each part with a different woman telling their story. The women pop up in other women's stories as they are all connected but your perspective is changing throughout the book. We have Suha from Lebanon who's husband has a contract in this country and they have moved there for him to work for a while. Tamr, who is the daughter of a sheikh and his concubine from Turkey, but is a native to this 'country' and a student of Suha's at the local womens' TAFE. Suzanne, an American housewife who again's husband has a contract in this country, yet she finds all men find her exotic and desirable in this country and never wants to leave. And Nur, who is incredibly spoiled by her very wealthy husband, but there is so much more to that relationship.Some of these women I completely empathised with. Some I was appalled with. But I understood most of them. They were all products of this restrictive society. And it made me so glad that I could drive and go where I wanted, when I wanted, without a man, I can work, I can be educated, I can leave my house without a man I'm related or married to, I can wear what I like and so much more. It was one of those books that immersed you in were you were and I think that's really important, as so many of us write off these places. We don't think about them. We know about them but we don't think about them, as they make us angry and so it's easier not to. And we forget the women within them.It's important to remember.For more reviews visit
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مريم ناصر
هدى و ايفون , فتاتان مهاجرتان من لبنان , تقضيان يوماً على الشاطئ, و كلاً منهما تحمل حكاية مدسوسة تحت قطعتي المايوه, هدى بتربيتها الصارمة , تعشق البحر و تخشاه لأنها في ذاكرتها تحمل مساحة سوداء شاسعة من النواح حين أكتشف والدها أنها تسبح في شاطئ مغلق و تتعرى أمام نسوة مثلها!و ايفون بنت البحر, الأنثى جداً و التي لا تريدها أمها أن تكون أفضل من شقيقها و تعد نجاحها سبب متعمد ليفشل أخوتها الذكور, حتى حين رمت نفسها من الصخرة المحرمة, وبختها لأنها كانت سبب في (إحراج)شقيقها الأكبر لأنه لم يتجرأ و يفعلها هو..ايفون التي أصبحت رجلاً بدون قصد و هي تتحدى الجميع, و هدى التي قلقت في كل صفحة أن تغرق في شبر ماء , و يوم واحد فقط كانت تدور أثناءه هذه الرواية التي أبدعت كالعادة فيها حنان الشيخ!مسلمة و مسيحية , و ذكريات حرب مشتركة و بلد يعشقانه و بحر مشترك, شقراء و سمراء و كثير من الحماقات.يوم من الحب, يوم من الذكريات, يوم من الضحك, يوم من البكاء, يوم من لون البحر, ويوم من الصداقة و الغيرة التي لابد ان تتخللها بدون قصد.استمتعت كالعادة مع حنان الشيخ , التي أخذت حيزاً من رفوف مكتبتي , رواية صغيرة من 95 صفحة لكنها رائعة.ما يعجبني في حنان الشيخ, انها تبدأ رواياتها و كأنها تقول كل شئ , و الفكرة والشخصيات واضحة جداً للقارئ, لكن في الحقيقة لا تكف عن زرع الدهشة في بعض التفاصيل و في الخاتمة التي لا بد أن تكون مذهلة!أحب التخدير الذي تمارسه حنان الشيخ في عقلي حيث تجعلني مدركة للقصة ثم تفاجئني بتفاصيل تدهشني بها.
Really this book was 2.75 stars because of the 4 women, not all of their stories were of interest. Suzanne the crazy American held the least interest for me. Many things made this tale drag;reading a book of people who are bored is boring to read. Other often-repeated tales of Arabia are included here for example, the story of the women who do not believe that the lunar landing ever happened. "Because the moon is so small, how could a man stand on it."One women managed to educate herself and use an inheritance to start a beauty salon/dressmaker business. She is wildly successful because the others have men that are not allowed to see or take measurements of the women.
Four women live in an unnamed Arabic desert-country, reacting differently to the enclosed world they inhabit:Suha: a "foreigner" who is suffocating under the weight of the heavy fabric she must inhabit, the small lot she is allowed in life. Cannot wait to leave the desert. Tamr: desires to open her own store and must risk infuriating her family and shaming her male relations. Suzanne: a voluptuous American woman who is thrilled to live in the desert, as she stands out and can command respect with her blond hair. In the desert, she is a rarity, a symbol of American strength, and can captivate her Arabian lover (who is so afraid of her enthusiastic sexuality that he calls her an hermaphrodite, neither a woman, nor a man.)Nur: beautiful and bored, who longs for attention and power, a throwback to the harem women of old. She feels trapped, but does not free herself. She weeps, cares for no one but her sometime friend and lover, Suha, and glories in her wealth and VCR.Interesting and depressing. An arid depiction of the lives of four very different women who are not in charge of their destinies.
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