Walking through Fire
The Later Years of Nawal El Saadawi
Apr 9 2009
Nawal el Saadawi
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In A Daughter of Isis, Nawal El Saadawi painted a beautifully textured portrait of the childhood that moulded her into a novelist and fearless campaigner for freedom and the rights of women. Walking through Fire takes up the story of her extraordinary life. Famous for her novels, short stories and writings on women, Saadawi is known as the first Arab woman to have written about sex and its relation to economics and politics. Imprisoned under Sadat for her opinions, she has continued to fight against all forms of discrimination based on class, gender, nationality, race or religion. This autobiography shows the passion for justice that has shaped her life and her writing. We read about her as a rural doctor, trying to help a young girl escape from a terrible fate imposed on her by a brutal male tyranny. We follow her attempts to set up women's organizations and to publish magazines later banned by the authorities or endangered by fundamentalist threats. We travel with her into exile after the publication of her name on a death list. We witness her first marriage to a freedom fighter hounded into drug addiction by a system that has no mercy. We share her struggle against her 'false self' and a second husband who offers her financial security and comfort - provided she stops writing. We live the beautiful moments of her third marriage with a man released after fourteen years of imprisonment and hard labour - their love, companionship and shared struggle. Nawal El Saadawi has carved a place for herself in the universal struggle against oppression. 'Words should not seek to please, to hide the wounds in our bodies, or the shameful moments in our lives', she says. 'They may hurt, give us pain, but they can also provoke us to question what we have accepted for thousands of years.'