cover image Nawal El Saadawi Reader

Nawal El Saadawi Reader

Nawal Sa'dawi, Nawal El Saadawi. Zed Books, $90.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-1-85649-513-4

Although hardly a household name in the United States, Saadawi is called by Britain's Guardian, according to her publisher, ""the leading spokeswoman on the status of women in the Arab world."" The 23 essays--mostly academic papers and speeches to conferences--that make up this collection fall under several general topics that range from women's health to women and Islamic fundamentalism to women organizing for change. A medical doctor who was general director of Egypt's Department of Health, Saadawi was imprisoned by President Anwar Sadat, she claims, after criticizing him for preaching democracy while practicing a dictatorship. After three months, and Sadat's assassination, she was freed by his successor, Hosni Mubarak. The translations of her essays (by various people) tend to be stilted, and Saadawi has a weakness for writing sentences like, ""All these different levels of inequality are linked together in the patriarchal capitalism system that governs the world today."" But when she abandons jargon and speaks directly about issues of poverty, health and women's role in fundamentalist societies, her book sizzles. (Dec.)