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Woman at Point Zero: Second Edition [Paperback]

Our Price $ 12.71  
Retail Value $ 14.95  
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Item Number 344002  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   114
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   0.26 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 7, 2007
Publisher   Zed Books
ISBN  1842778730  
EAN  9781842778739  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
As Firdaus sits in a grimy prison cell awaiting the relief that death will bring, she looks back at her life and what brought her to this point, from childhood cruelty to being forced into a marriage she did not want.

Publishers Description
"All the men I did get to know, every single man of them, has filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face. But because I am a woman I have never had the courage to lift my hand. And because I am a prostitute, I hid my fear under layers of make-up." --ExcerptThis is a new edition of the best-selling novel with a specially commissioned new Foreword by Miriam Cooke.

Buy Woman at Point Zero: Second Edition by Nawal El Saadawi from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781842778739 & 1842778730

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More About Nawal El Saadawi

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Nawal El Saadawi now works as a writer, psychiatrist and activist. Her many prizes and awards include the Great Minds of the Twentieth Century Prize, awarded by the American Biographical Institute in 2003, the North-South Prize from the Council of Europe and the Premi Internacional Catalunya in 2004. Her books have been translated into over 28 languages worldwide. They are taught in universities across the world.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Love It  May 8, 2008
As a student at Spelman College, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Nawal Saadawi since she currently works there and she is nothing short of amazing, just as well as her work. Woman at Point Zero was a required reading for one of my courses, but as I began to read the book I was surprised at how interesting it was. I couldn't take my eyes off of it until I reached the last page. It's a short but excellent read. Firdaus' story and experiences are a perfect representation of women activism in a very unique way!!! I'd recommend this book to all women...
Just Keep Reading.  Apr 2, 2008
I had to read this book for a Non-Western Literature college course, and intitially I was suffering through it so I wouldn't look like a fool when called on in class. However, when I actually sat down and thought about the true meaning behind this book, I was blown away by the empowerment and strength it offered. It takes a little while to realize what the author is really trying to get through the reader's head, but once he or she catches it, it will open eyes.
Egyptology  Sep 1, 2007
Here's a quick test. Go and grab a pen and paper.

OK, got one? Great, here goes.

Make a list of well-known feminists. I will give you a few moments.

So. How many did you manage? I am not sure the term is as relevant now as it was in the 60s and 70s (aren't we all post-feminist these days?) but to be honest I am not remotely qualified to comment so I should shut up.

Lovely. Now make a list of well-known Islamic feminists. Go on.

If you managed to come up with any at all then you are clearly a widely-read, clued up, socially aware individual who deserves the smug smile you are currently wearing. Well done.

I wouldn't have been able to name one until last week. That was when I received an interesting package from Zed Books. Zed are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and part of the celebrations include special new editions of three books by Nawal El Saadawi: Woman At Point Zero, God Dies By The Nile and The Hidden Face At Eve.

Saadawi was one of the few writers of her generation to tackle the subject of the plight of women in certain Islamic countries, in her case Egypt. The Hidden Face of Eve was the first book by an Arab woman to talk openly about female genital mutilation. I won't go into too much detail here as her website is full of useful information which I would only be cribbing anyway.

I happened to have the proof of Woman At Point Zero in my bag when I was stuck waiting for a train earlier this week and started flicking through it. It is a remarkable book. Painful, compulsive reading. I am sure some of you know all about it but for those who don't this short novel, or creative non-fiction as the author describes it, is the story of Fidraus, a prostitute about to be executed for murdering her pimp. Her life is recounted in a little over 100 pages but each one leaves an indelible mark. This is a tale of injustice, inequality and sheer bad luck to rival all those bloody misery memoirs that litter the supermarkets but it is written with such grace and skill as to be on a par with the finest literature of this or any era.

I don't think the misery memoir comparison is entirely out of place. I am sure that if you could convince someone who laps up those books to give this a go they would be dumbstruck, they would 'get it' and they may well seek out more 'literary' fare as a result. But this book is not of that genre at all, it is a classic of modern literature and an important social study. I would consider it an essential volume for every self-respecting book collection.

I was prepared to find this book dated (it was first published in 1979) and so outside of my tastes that I would not enjoy it. Instead I found it haunting, poetic and fiercely relevant.

(Originally reviewed at the Me And My Big Mouth blog)
It's also about the larger issue of the haves exploiting the have-nots  Mar 26, 2007
The story takes place in the early 1970s. The author, Dr. Saadawi is a psychiatrist and consultant for the women's prison. A young woman named Firdaus is scheduled to be executed for fatally stabbing her pimp. Thus far Firdaus has refused to speak to anyone, but Dr. Saadawi breaks through and thus a novel is born.

Firdaus is born to a poor family. Her parents die and she goes to live with her perverted uncle. He gets married and wants to be rid of Firdaus so he sends her to boarding school. She finishes her secondary school exams placing 7th in all of Egypt.

Her uncle and his wife decide that sending her to university would be a waste of time as there aren't that many job opportunities available. So, they marry her off to a sheik, who's supposed to be a real catch. He's plenty old enough to be her grandfather, and prone to tirades and violence that cause his repulsive facial sores to ooze pusty goo. Prior to this "arranged" marriage Firdaus contemplates escaping, but realizing how limited her options are acquiesces. Eventually, the marriage becomes unbearable and she flees only to be "rescued" by a pimp. She goes through a series of pimps, and one madam, before having a major epiphany.

Firdaus realizes she has been selling herself short. Drastically raising her prostitution rate makes her a hot commodity. Being a product of American pop culture myself this came as no great surprise to me. After all, some of my compatriots have been known to spend as much as $50,000 for a handbag. This concept of setting the price too high in order to raise the product's perceived worth in the eyes of the consumer is known in the advertising industry as "prestige pricing."

Firdaus sets herself up as a freelance pro. She has a nice apartment and picks and chooses her clients, and has free-time to pursue intellectual interests. Before long she has another major revelation after a male friend, whom she believes respects her as an astute liberated woman, lets her know that she's "just a whore." She then decides to get an "honest" 9 to 5 job working for the government. In doing so she must drastically reduce her standard of living. She is in for a rude awakening as she discovers the subculture of office politics. Not only did she make far more money as a prostitute she got more respect. Putting out is one of the unwritten rules of the job description.

Coincidentally, two nights before I read this book I saw a TV show about one of Nevada's legal brothels. The pimp, or CEO, boasted that their top "girl" grossed half a million dollars last year. That's more than 10 times what the average teacher makes (if not for the union they would make even less) and five times that of a nurse practitioner (HMOs don't mind paying this because it's still far cheaper than hiring MDs). Firdaus' story takes place about 35 years ago and I know there have been a lot of positive changes since then, but I wonder how many of them are cosmetic.

Two days after reading Firdaus' story I came across an article about the human organ "business." (Buying and selling organs is illegal in the US, but entrepreneurs circumvent this bete noire by charging "service" and "handling" fees. Organ procurers can strip a body much like a car, fetching $250,000 through legal channels!) In China harvesting death row inmates to sell their organs is reported to be a booming business. Regardless of how one feels about the death penalty, once profit is factored into the equation look out! So, if Firdaus were executed today in China her body could continue to be a commodity post-mortem.

This novella bears uncanny similarities to Lao She's "Crescent Moon." It's a short story in an anthology by the same name. A widowed mother is forced to prostitute to support her daughter then the daughter ends up prostituting to support the mother. Neither of them is named but, the daughters observations are very similar to Firdaus', so similar I began to wonder if Saadawi has read "Crescent Moon." Lao She was a casualty of the Cultural Revolution in 1966.

The motif of the stalking and judgemental green eyes can also be found in Li Ang's 1969 short story, "Curvaceous Dolls" that appears in The Colombia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature edited by Joseph S.M. Lau and Howard Goldblatt. Li Ang also wrote The Butcher's Wife. "Curvaceous Dolls" is about a young wife's saphic longings, not unlike Firdaus' feelings for Miss Iqbal.
Woman at Point Zero  Jan 10, 2007
I recommend this book. I couldn't take my eyes off it since the first page, this is the most touching book i've ever read.

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