The View from Garden City

Carolyn Baugh, Author . Forge $24.95 (333p) ISBN 978-0-7653-1657-8

In Baugh's evocative debut, an unnamed American woman studying at the American University in Cairo bears witness to the lives of several Cairene women, finding their lives at once heartbreaking, fascinating and inspiring. The American student's Arabic professor, Afkar, who teaches her the delights of a “precise” cup of Turkish coffee, was forced into marriage with a weak, abusive man after an indiscreet crush as a girl. Huda, now perilously in her early 20s, loves penniless Sharif, but marries a financially stable man she finds physically repulsive, and learns to live with this decision. Huda's mother, Karima, a childhood victim of female genital mutilation, marries the grocer and faces a horrific birth control situation. And the American learns the stories of Selwa, who has borne 12 children and had three survive, and of Samira, who has spent most of her adult life in love with her best friend's husband. Baugh overwrites (“Qasr al-'Ayni Street seethes with faces and bodies, and I walk it in a daze that despises the density while thriving on the sudden, forced intimacy of it all”), but her observations and empathy are often spot on. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4299-8419-5
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-7653-2183-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-0-7653-5576-8
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