Nawal El Saadawi: Searching

He vanishes. After seasons of being together and meeting every Tuesday in that restaurant overlooking the Nile, Farid does not show up. This catapults Fouada into a period of searching.

“How had a man become her whole life? She didn’t know how it happened. She wasn’t the sort of woman who gives her life to anyone. Her life was too important to give to one man. Above all, her life was not her own but belonged to the world, which she wanted to change.”

And yet, here she was, searching; for him? or has his disappearance allowed her to seek out a purpose and a deeper meaning to life? What was she seeking, exactly?

A female chemist in Cairo’s patriarchal society, Fouada is intelligent and strong-willed. But our daring author impales a nerve here, an uncomfortable truth rarely dissected and examined — the existential torment and uncertainty that women of strong character endure.

A Nawal El Saadawi work of fiction is an art film; one where nuanced cinematography captures the reflection of the sun on a window pane and which slowly pans toward the distress coursing through a woman’s veins; one that disquiets with its honesty; one with an unbroken tension that does not resolve, but bleeds into a thousand provoking questions as the end credits fade into darkness.

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