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God Dies by the Nile: Second Edition [Paperback]

Our Price $ 29.71  
Retail Value $ 34.95  
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Item Number 343998  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   175
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.79" Width: 6.23" Height: 0.44"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 4, 2007
Publisher   Zed Books
ISBN  1842778773  
EAN  9781842778777  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Nawal El Saadawi is the 2007 recipient of the African Literature Association's Fonlon-Nichols Award!
"People have become corrupt everywhere. You can search in vain for justice or true morality. They no longer exist."
Kafr El Teen is a beautiful, sleepy village on the banks of the Nile. Yet at its heart it is tyrannical and corrupt. The Mayor, Sheikh Hamzawi of the mosque, and the Chief of the Village Guard are obsessed by wealth and use and abuse the women of the village, taking them as slaves, marrying them and beating them. Resistance, it seems, is futile. Zakeya, an ordinary villager, works in the fields by the Nile and watches the world, squatting in the dusty entrance to her house, quietly accepting her fate. It is only when her nieces fall prey to the Mayor that Zakeya becomes enraged by the injustice of her society and possessed by demons. Where is the loving and peaceful God in whom Zakeya believes? Nawal El Saadawi's classic attempt to square religion with a society in which women are respected as equals is as relevant today as ever.

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Nawal El Saadawi is a renowned Egyptian writer, novelist and activist. She has published over 40 books, which have been translated into over 30 languages.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Beautiful hopelessness indeed  Apr 10, 2008
It was...hmm, brutal. And angry. Beautifully written and profoundly depressing. And it exposed the immense power held by petty officials and their corruption and greed and insecurities. It exposed the horrifying lot of women whatever class they were born into. Worth reading.

All well and good, but an entire village void of anyone who can actually ask a rational question or grasp why things are the way they are much less struggle against that? A whole village full of people who cannot see beyond their plows? Not one person even vaguely awake and self-aware? It reminded me of Chekhov's stories of reminded me of the dominant paradigm of poor people as stupid and ignorant, which ultimately leads to the idea that poverty is their fault.

Were it true, change would be impossible.
a poetic description of hopelessness  Mar 20, 2006
This is a beautifully written, and sensitively translated, portrait of the utter oppression and near-hopelessness of Egyptian peasant life in the mid-1970's when the book was first written. El Saadawi is a powerful voice for the Egyptian underclass, having grown up in a village along the Nile and risen to become a doctor. Her books have periodically been banned but she continues to write. Hers is a voice we should be aware of. A short book, with a compelling story, it is an 'easy' read. I took it along as holiday reading during my first visit to Egypt, and it definitely helped me to make some sense of what I was seeing as I cruised down the river.
An Egyptian "Uncle Tom's Cabin"  Jul 20, 2004
"God Dies by the Nile," a novel by Nawal El Saadawi, focuses on the Egyptian town of Kafr El Teen. As the story opens we meet Zakeya, an agricultural laborer who is working the soil by the Nile River. We soon meet her family of poor peasants, as well as the privileged ruling class of the village; the lives of these groups are intertwined in disturbing ways.

A note about the author tells that she was born in a village on the banks of the Nile and eventually became a doctor, and that her books have been banned. This book reminded me a lot of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the classic American novel of social protest. In "God Dies" Saadawi deals with socioeconomic oppression, the sexual exploitation of women, and the intermingling of religion and politics.

"God Dies" is full of fascinating characters. There is Metwalli, seen by some as a holy man and by others as an idiot; also memorable is Fatheya, the strong-willed wife of the leader of the village mosque. The interpersonal conflicts and relationships of the characters are very compelling, and are punctuated by some biting dialogue. Saadawi's vivid language has a powerful appeal to the senses; I could really imagine myself being immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of this world.

At times the multiple storylines made the novel feel a bit disjointed, but ultimately Saadawi's craftsmanship gives the book a powerful unity and balance. This is a vivid and well-written portrait of human cruelty and corruption. As a companion text I recommend "The Villagers," by Jorge Icaza.

Pleasurable, if slow.  May 5, 2003
Nawal el Saadawi, God Dies by the Nile (Zed, 1974)

Nawal el Saadawi, Egyptian doctor, feminist, and activist, has written close to thirty books, spent time in prison for being a subversive, and for more than forty years has been a leader of progressive thinking in Egypt. So why is she almost unknown in America? I�m not entirely sure anyone can answer that question completely. Better to just try and correct the problem.

God Dies by the Nile, originally published in Egypt in 1974, is the story of a family living across the street from the mayor of the peasant village of Kafr el Teen, along the banks of the Nile. We learn early on that the Mayor is a nasty fellow, and with his three cronies (the village doctor, the Captain of the Guard, and the head of the mosque), he controls all the power in the village. Needless to say, he uses this power for the most corrupt of ends.

Zakeya is the titular head of the family across the street. Four years ago, her son Galal went off to fight at Suez, and has never been heard from again. Her brother, a widower, and his two daughters, Nefissa and Zeinab, live with Zakeya. The four of them work in the fields, as does everyone else in the village, until a summons comes from the Mayor: if Nefissa will work in his house as a maid, he will pay the family an almost unimaginable sum per month. Nefissa goes. All this happens before the beginning of the story (but it�s better than doing the synopsis on the back of the Zed paperback, which is truly a synopsis�right up to the final chapter, a spoiler extraordinaire). After Nefissa runs away, the Mayor becomes taken with Zeinab, and the whole painful cycle begins again.

God Dies by the Nile is worth reading to the American reader for the same reasons as most other African novels: to get a sense of how similar we are in our cultures despite the various differences in them. Apart from that, while the writing is a tad on the clunky side (this could easily be a problem of translation rather than the original work), the book, which clocks in at a slight 108 pages, is an easy and somewhat compelling read in the vein of classical metatragedy (�meta-� in that the agents of tragedy here are human, and thus the protagonists can do something about them). El Saadawi�s characters are wonderfully drawn, for the most part, and the differences in culture mean little when characters are drawn in this detail; you get a feel for the body language of the characters, and what it means, even if it is unfamiliar to you. In this is the book�s largest weakness; el Saadawi is so excellent at drawing these characters and showing us their feelings and motivations that when she reiterates them explicitly, she�s redoing a job she�s already done very well, and so the book tends to slow with repetition now and again. Still, that makes it no less pleasurable, if a story this tragic can be in any way pleasurable. ***


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