Sunday, December 03, 2006

Woman At Point Zero

If anyone still bothers to read this, I’d like to apologise for my general lack of posting last week, mainly due to laziness/the winter blues/time spent sitting around and moping. Enough is enough! Pick yourself up traveller, give yourself a dust off, and get back on the road. Louise Bagshawe has been a literary version of Fiji – relaxing, fun, non-taxing, all in all a nice break. (It is possible I may be extending my whole world travels via literature thing too far here…)

Anyway, following my chick lit diversion, I delved into another ‘prison novel’, if I can use that term. It isn’t prison fiction in the same way that This Blinding Absence of Light was, although I hardly need state that the obvious central theme of confinement remains. Nawal el Sadaawi has been imprisoned for her controversial writings and activism for change in Egyptian society. Woman At Point Zero is a partly fictionalised tale of a woman Saadawi met when she paid a visit to Qanatir prison. Firdaus, the woman whose story Saadawi tells, was imprisoned and executed for murder. In telling Firdaus’ tale for her, Saadawi raises many questions about liberty, death, the repression of women, the morals of murder. The novel isn’t about prison walls of stone; it’s about the prison men have made for women in society and the punishments meted out to those who dare to try and break out.

I found Woman At Point Zero an interesting contrast to recent works I’ve read; both The Blinding Absence of Light and So Long A Letter were about confinement and restriction and punishment, and all three are from different parts of Africa with different cultures, albeit a shared religion in the form of Islam. All three books have been exceptional reads, and reading books which take such similar central themes yet take those themes in such different directions has encouraged me to think a lot about the world we live in. Sounds corny, I know, but there is always a new perspective to consider, always a new take on an old situation, and there is always some kind of relevance to our lives or our own society if you choose to see it. And I think I’m still young enough to be a bit naïve about the world!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm permanently erratic about posts, no matter how hard I try to keep up!

El Saadawi is a really interesting writer (although I confess I haven't read this yet - in my TBR pile!), she has written a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction, most focusing on lives of women.

Thanks for sharing your experience of reading her. Amazing how books sometimes complement each other without planning it that way.