Nawal El Saadawi wrote this in 1979. Set in Egypt in the 1960s-70s; it is a account of Firdaus, a prisoner awaiting her death sentence. She tells her life story to a psychiatrist detailing the events that led up to her murdering her former pimp. It is a powerful account dealing themes of the nature of power (personal and gender-based), serveillance as it pertains to ownership, and gaining and having respect. In the story Firdaus struggles with sexuality, choice, and her ongoing, life-long captivity starting much prior to her arrest.
"Her voice continued to echo in my ears, vibrating in my head, in the cell, in the prison, in the streets, in the whole world, shaking everything, spreading fear wherever it went, the fear of the truth which kills, the power of truth, as savage, and as simple, and as awesome as death, yet as simple and as gentle as a child that has not yet learnt to lie."
It is a very human, compelling powerful story very powerfully written. Saadawi has written many books about women in Islam. This one with it's searing indictment of society's brutal treatment of women continues to resonate today. Thirty years lated and she is included in Twelve best books by African women : critical readings edited by Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi and Tuzyline Jita Allan fom 2009 (TIGER link: PN849.A35 T64 2009).
Years after completing this book, she was imprisoned herself in 1981. "Danger has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a pen and wrote. Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies." In 1988, when her life was threatened she was forced to flee Egypt.
TIGER link: PJ7862.A3 I413 2007