Home > Uncategorized > First book of summer: The Naqib’s Daughter

First book of summer: The Naqib’s Daughter

Before I start in on the “official” reading list for the Arabic Novel seminar, I’m enjoying Samia Serageldin’s new novel.  I’m not sure I’m completely convinced by the love affair, but the historical and cultural content is fascinating.  I’m ashamed to discover how little I knew about Egypt’s history of occupation in the 18th and 19th centuries.  What a fascinating, convoluted set of dynamics among the Ottomans, British, French, Egyptians, and the enslaved Mamlukes.  Even with historical notes and a glossary, it’s challenging to keep things straight.  Fortunately, I can follow the intrigue even if I sometimes forget the significance of different titles.  

The main female characters, one well advanced in years and one a young bride, both hold their own as politics and military conflict swirl around them.  From behind the veil and within the harem, they shape their own destiny and influence events of national importance.  

Marriage is an important theme, and the conflict between the polygamous Egyptian approach to it and the monogamous European one is complicated by rampant infidelity among the Europeans.  In Samia Serageldin’s hands, this isn’t a black and white issue, but one with many nuances.

I look forward to reading this book again!

  1. July 2, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Welcome to the blogosphere Tina!

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