Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nine Parts of Desire

Recently I read NINE PARTS OF DESIRE: THE HIDDEN LIVES OF ISLAMIC WOMEN by Geraldine Brooks. Brooks, a journalist who spent years covering the Middle East, relates anecdotes about real women whom she met while in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordon, Iran and Iraq. I found the book fascinating, not only because Brooks is a fine writer, but also because it gives a human face to the figures beneath the enveloping veils we see on the news. Brooks shows all types of women, from very conservative and traditional Muslims to those who are very Westernized and Muslim in name only. She even includes several American or British women who married Middle Eastern men and chose to live in societies where they, too, are restricted and must wear the veil. Brooks brings the reader inside the homes of these women--indeed, for some of them, one would never meet them without being brought to their homes--and shows them in their own milieu. It's also chilling, however, because so few of the women she met had any significant freedom, and so many live under such constricting rules. I recommend the book, but I don't envy the women who were its much wasted talent, energy and potential that the world will never see.

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