A surprisingly open, extremely timely examination of the sexual coming-of-age for Egyptian youth.

SEX AND THE CITADEL

INTIMATE LIFE IN A CHANGING ARAB WORLD

A daring new study finds the newly liberated Egyptians poised to demand more sexual freedom in the face of religious fundamentalism.

The Arab Spring has brought the Egyptians in particular to the brink of a sexual revolution not unlike the movement that struck the West 40 years ago, writes Economist and Al Jazeera English journalist El Feki, who is trained in molecular immunology and serves as vice chair of the U.N.’s Global Commission on HIV and Law. However, Egypt’s new order maintains a liberal minority and a conservative majority (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood), and the push back against sexual liberation, especially as demanded by women, is daunting and unsure. El Feki, born in England and raised in Canada by an Egyptian father and Welsh mother, embarks on her subject with healthy doses of humor and irony, offering a selected look at erotic classical Arabic writings that flourished famously during the Abbasid period from the 8th to 10th centuries in Baghdad. Arab culture traditionally celebrated sexuality as compatible with elements of the Islamic faith, but what gradually occurred in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world was that sexuality was equated with the “licentiousness” of the imperialists. The response to colonial occupation meant returning to the basics, to Islamic fundamentalism and the Salafi movement, the latter allowed to emerge openly after the recent Arab Spring. With personal stories bolstered by facts and figures, El Feki looks at the tensions between what is halal (permitted under Islamic law) and haram (forbidden) or zina (downright debauchery). She also discusses sex education, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and even lingerie and cross-dressing. As a daughter of the region, El Feki is also deeply engaged in and hopeful for greater democratization in personal relations.

A surprisingly open, extremely timely examination of the sexual coming-of-age for Egyptian youth.

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-37739-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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