Specters

Radwa Ashour, trans. from the Arabic by Barbara Romaine, Interlink, $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-56656-832-6
The fates of two Egyptian women who grew up during the turbulent, nationalistic 1950s and participated in the revolutionary student movement of the early 1970s intertwine in Ashour's meandering autobiographical novel. The narrator, ostensibly the author "Radwa," born in 1946, returns to the time of her youth in Cairo, first in French grade school, then at Cairo University in the mid-1960s, by employing the parallel—and often intersecting—life of her character Shagar Abdel Ghaffar, a young woman born on the same day and year who attends the university as a history student and eventually becomes a professor. Shagar writes a book about the Israeli massacre at the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin that becomes the focus of Radwa's own research interest, which took the shape of Ashour's actual novel, Granada. The author draws pointed lessons from the defense of truth and intellectual freedom that Shagar stands for, though only American readers versed in recent Egyptian history will appreciate the nuances. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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