Distant View of a Minaret: And Other Stories

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Heinemann, 1987 - Fiction - 116 pages
1 Review

More convincingly than any other woman writing in Arabic today, Alifa Rifaat, an Egyptian, lifts the veil on what it means to be a woman living within a traditional Muslim society. Her writing articulates a subtle revolt against, and a sympathetic insight into, the place of women in the essentially male-dominated Islamic environment.

Change, development, and understanding are called for but the invocation is couched in specifically Arab terms; her inspiration lies not in the Women's Movement of the West but remains within a strictly religious, even Orthodox Qur'anic framework.

 

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User Review  - bezoar44 - LibraryThing

A number of reviews take care to point out that these short stories are not feminist, which is true enough; they are closely-observed pictures of (mostly) women's lives in Egypt. Some of the settings ... Read full review

Contents

Distant View of a Minaret
1
Bahiyyas Eyes
5
Telephone Call
13
Thursday Lunch
17
An Incident in the Ghobashi Household
23
Badriyya and Her Husband
29
Me and My Sister
39
Mansoura
47
The Long Night of Winter
55
My World of the Unknown
61
At the Time of the Jasmine
77
The Flat in Nakshabandi Street
89
Degrees of Death
103
The Kite
107
Just Another Day
113
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About the author (1987)

Alifa Rifaat has spent all her life in the Arab world, immersed in the traditions and culture of Islam. She was brought up in Egypt, a devout Muslim, strictly adhering to the Islamic way of life and well versed in the Qu'ran and religious teachings. Her education and a possible future career in art were curtailed when she married - her parents' alternative to university. A widow, she now lives in Cairo with her three children. Largely divorced from Western influences, speaking and writing only Arabic, Alifa Rifaat allows the reader a rare and enlightening glimpse at woman's condition in a male-dominated environment.Her originality lies not in any overt and conventional feminist approach, but rather through her implicit criticisms of the male neglect of his Islamic obligations to women, particularly in family life and marital relationships. She challenges behaviour from within the accepted framework of her society's religion and laws. Distant View of a Minaret was first published in English in 1983, by Quartet Books. Two of the stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

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