'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'.
So begins Firdaus' story, leading to her grimy Cairo prison cell, where she welcomes her death sentence as a relief from her pain and suffering. Born to a peasant family in the Egyptian countryside, Firdaus suffers a childhood of cruelty and neglect. Her passion for education is ignored by her family, and on leaving school she is forced to marry a much older man. Following her escapes from violent relationships, she finally meets Sharifa who tells her that 'A man does not know a woman's value... the higher you price yourself the more he will realise what you are really worth' and leads her into a life of prostitution. Desperate and alone, she takes drastic action.
Saadawi's searing indictment of society's brutal treatment of women continues to resonate today. This classic novel has been an inspiration to countless people across the world.