This was the last book I took from the library before we shifted into “Corona Mode” and the library locked its doors.
It is another good example of the kind of book I never would have known about without the help of a librarian!
This is a book about people who don’t belong, particularly women who don’t belong (though not only women). It is told from the perspective of a woman from a strictly conservative Bedouin family who lived in a small town in Egypt, in the Eastern Nile Delta. Not only are women relegated to specific, limited roles, but the Bedouins are considered outsiders in the village. Then there is the Coptic woman who is honored but is even more of an outsider.
The book moves between flashbacks of childhood in Egypt to life in modern-day Brooklyn Heights, where we meet more outsiders, Muslim immigrants from different parts of the world who dreamed of a new life in the USA, but their dreams were never realized.
Tahawy writes beautifully and I enjoyed the vivid depictions of the life of the main character, Hend, in Egypt. However, I was disappointed with the parts relating to her life in Brooklyn. Nothing seems to happen, nothing goes progresses or regresses or anything. It seemed as if the author had only caused Hend to immigrate to present more “outsiders” while abandoning Hend’s tale. It’s rather depressing, depressing without it being part of a way to move forward. Or backward – frankly, I was quite concerned that Hend would commit suicide.
Nonetheless, I do recommend reading this book -there are many fascinating parts.