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Misk al-Ghazāl
Hanan Al-Shaykh
publisher: Dar al-Adab, Beirut, 1988

translated as:
Women of Sand and Myrrh
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 1989
translation: Catherine Cobham

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Women Of Sand and Myrrh focuses on four contemporary women living in an unnamed Middle-Eastern country. Suha lives away from her home, war-torn Beruit, yet longs for the freedoms she had in Beruit: Why should she be confronted in the markets because she isn't covered? Why is she forbidden to drive? What part does her anger at this place and her overwhelming unhappiness with her husband play in her involvement in a lesbian relationship, or does it? Tamr, a native, sees the freedoms men have and wonders why those doors are closed to her. Even when she does succeed in opening a business, she is ever watchful for the self-appointed guards who will try to shut her down. Suzanne, from the United States, is excused for many of her actions because she is not an Arab. The unhappiness of her marriage is played out through a multitude of affairs. When her husband's job ends, will she be able to go back to the United States and be just another middle-aged woman? Wealthy, unhappy Nur wants only to be allowed to travel, but her husband has her passport. With all her money, she sits in a glass house and feels her dissatisfaction deepen. Hanan Al-Shaykh's intricate writing, sometimes whispered, sometimes shouted, is a desperate plea for liberation.

- 500 Great Books by Women


Women of Sand and Myrrh
Four intertwined first-person narratives use poetic language to paint a hard-edged picture of an unnamed wealthy Arab desert country full of luxurious houses hidden behind high walls and women hidden behind veils.
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The Ledge
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