Cover image for Walking through fire : a life of Nawal El Saadawi
Walking through fire : a life of Nawal El Saadawi
Saʻdāwī, Nawāl.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Claremont, South Africa : D. Philip ; London ; New York : Zed ; New York : Distributed in the USA exclusively by Palgrave, 2002.
Physical Description:
251 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PJ7862.A3 Z476 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In A Daughter of Isis , Nawal El Saadawi painted a beautifully textured portrait of the childhood that moulded her into a novelist and fearless campaigner for freedom and the rights of women. Walking through Fire takes up the story of her extraordinary life.

Famous for her novels, short stories and writings on women, Saadawi is known as the first Arab woman to have written about sex and its relation to economics and politics. Imprisoned under Sadat for her opinions, she has continued to fight against all forms of discrimination based on class, gender, nationality, race or religion.

This autobiography shows the passion for justice that has shaped her life and her writing. We read about her as a rural doctor, trying to help a young girl escape from a terrible fate imposed on her by a brutal male tyranny. We follow her attempts to set up women's organizations and to publish magazines later banned by the authorities or endangered by fundamentalist threats. We travel with her into exile after the publication of her name on a death list. We witness her first marriage to a freedom fighter hounded into drug addiction by a system that has no mercy. We share her struggle against her 'false self' and a second husband who offers her financial security and comfort - provided she stops writing. We live the beautiful moments of her third marriage with a man released after fourteen years of imprisonment and hard labour - their love, companionship and shared struggle.

Nawal El Saadawi has carved a place for herself in the universal struggle against oppression. 'Words should not seek to please, to hide the wounds in our bodies, or the shameful moments in our lives', she says. 'They may hurt, give us pain, but they can also provoke us to question what we have accepted for thousands of years.'

Author Notes

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.Nawal El Saadawi graduated from the University of Cairo Medical College in 1955, specializing in psychiatry, and practiced as a medical doctor until taking the position of Director General for Public Health Education in the Ministry of Health. In 1972 she lost her job in the Egyptian government because of her banned book: Woman and Sex. In 1982, she established the Arab Women's Solidarity Association (AWSA), the Egyptian Branch of which was outlawed in Egypt in 1991.In 1981 Saadawi was arrested and imprisoned for publicly criticizing President Anwar Sadat's policies. She was released one month after his assassination. Her name appeared on a fundamentalist death list after publishing her novel The Fall of the Imam in Cairo in 1988 and she was obliged to leave her country, to teach in the USA. Other court cases have been raised against both her and her daughter and defeated. In 2008 she defeated a case that demanded the withdrawal of her Egyptian Nationality in response to her play God Resigns at the Summit Meeting.Her most famous novel, Woman at Point Zero was published in Beirut in 1973. It was followed in 1976 by God Dies by the Nile and in 1977 by The Hidden Face of Eve. The Hidden Face of Eve was her first book to be translated to English and was published by Zed Books in 1980. Her most recent novel is Zina: The Stolen Novel (2008).Nawal El Saadawi holds more than ten honorary doctorates from different universities in Europe and the USA. Her many prizes and awards include the Great Minds of the Twentieth Century Prize (2003), the North-South Prize from the Council of Europe, the Premi Internacional Catalunya (2004) , and most recently she was the 2007 recipient of The African Literature Association's Fonlon-Nichols Award. Her books are taught in universities across the world.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

"The older I become, the closer I come to my childhood and keep remembering it," writes novelist and physician El Saadawi in this sequel to her first memoir, A Daughter of Isis. Her new work is sprinkled with childhood experiences and memories, but the focus is on her adult life in Egypt and her four years in exile at Duke University. El Saadawi chronicles her experiences as a medical student, rural doctor, and defender of women's rights. She also describes what it's like to be a writer placed on a death list, a daughter confronting the deaths of her beloved parents, and a wife first to a freedom fighter, then to a lawyer she didn't love, and finally to a physician and writer. El Saadawi brings to life the politics, economics, and culture of a country enmeshed in colonization, imperialism, terrorism, and traditional patriarchal Islamic moral and religious values. Her honesty, strength, courage, and accomplishments are admirable and inspiring. This is essential for women's studies collections and should be in all public and academic libraries. Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Threat
Spreading My Wings
The Village Doctor
The Tripartite Invasion
What is Suppressed Always Comes Back
Love and Despair
My Mother Has No Place in Paradise
Moments That Belong Nowhere
The Death Threat
Beyond Consciousness
the Photograph
The Scalpel and the Law
The Defeat
Searching for Love
An Aborted Revolution
The Dream of Flying