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Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  8,864 ratings  ·  886 reviews
With a New Afterword

As a prizewinning foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Geraldine Brooks spent six years covering the Middle East through wars, insurrections, and the volcanic upheaval of resurgent fundamentalism. Yet for her, headline events were only the backdrop to a less obvious but more enduring drama: the daily life of Muslim women. Nine Parts of Des
Paperback, 255 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Anchor (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 12, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Islam
Aaargh. I just wrote a bloody long review of this book then the ******* goodreads website ate it. Anyway, starting over....

" Read, in the name of thy Lord
Who hath created all things, who
Hath created man of congealed blood.
Read, by thy most beneficent Lord,
Who taught us the use of the pen,
who teaches man that which he knoweth not."

The Koran: The Chapter of Congealed Blood

I have been living, working and travelling in the Middle East since I was nineteen years old. That's over eleven years now. In
Jul 12, 2008 janet rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Islam and women
Recommended to janet by: Susan Michael Hoelschen
Shelves: non-fiction
Now that I have moved away from Arabia after living there for three years, I was ready to read a book about women and Islam. I tend to be dubious about any book that claims to have the real story on this topic, but found this book worth reading.
When I read the title, I thought I was going to learn more about the sexuality of Arabic women. Instead, the book was about the life of Islamic women as wives, mothers, workers, and citizens. In her attempt to understand Islamic women she also got to kno
Before reading this book, I remember looking at the woman who were completely covered by their berka and thinking how repressed they were. I felt sorry for the freedom they were denied. My landlord at the time gave me his copy and I although I was hesitant, I agreed to read it...and I am so glad I did! The book delves deep into the roots of the Muslim beliefs and allows an outsider to appreciate a custom we would otherwise know little about. I learned that most woman (interviewed) do not feel re ...more
Jul 02, 2008 Wendroz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This should be required reading.... or at least strongly encouraged, this book was written in 1994. THis was entertaining with a lot of research and facts made more interesting by interviewing and living with the people she wrote about. I am buying a copy ASAP (borrowed from the library)
Brooks writes, “because this is the kind of sterile, segregated world that (fundamentalists) are calling for, right now, for their countries and for the entire Islamic world. None of these groups is saying, ‘Let’
I live in Dubai and know a lot of people who have read this book, besides myself. I am an American, so you'd think my perspective would be similar to Brooks', but it's not. It is true, there are extreme, evil, awful and just wrong things that happen in the name of fundumental Islam, and I know I have shared stories with expat friends about them. But I and everyone I know who has read this book have been left with a bad taste. Brooks is a very good, engaging writer, and I did learn some things fr ...more
Hmm... Personally it always makes me uncomfortable when an outsider criticizes and analyzes a religion that is not their own. There are enough people from Muslim countries who are scathingly critical of their own culture and write about it. When someone from the West does it, it always appears to be condescending even when they are trying to be objective.
This book was written in the 90s, so while not all the information is necessarily dated, it's definitely not up to date. This was also the tim
Nine Parts Of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women is a wonderful informative read.

The author an Austrailian reporter who spend the late 1980s and early 90s in the Middle East as a reporter, and during her time there decided to get to know the women of Islam and spent a lot of time interviewing and getting to know these women of different social status and different ages to bring us a very interesting account of Islamic history, Islamic women and the traditions of today.

I love reading about
A very detailed examnation of first hand experiences with Islamic women in the Middle East. I hadn't read anything by Brooks before, though two of her novels are in my TBR pile, and picked this up at Borders going out of business sale because it looked interesting.

Brooks is one brave mama, I must say.

The presentation is rather interesting and it is somewhat surprsing, at least to the reader, that even women who are fundamentalist or anti-American (or Anti-Jewish even) are presented in such a lig
Hafsa Umar
As a Muslim woman I was interested in reading this book as to have an idea of how Muslim women are viewed by non-Muslim westerners.I was a bit confused reading this book as most of the issues discussed such as the honor killings or removal of clitoris have never even been heard by me. A distinction between culture and religion really has to be made as I sense that the middle Eastern have very deep rooted cultures that have tangled with Islam and because they form the bulk of Muslim population,at ...more
I'm currently obsessed with this book. It's coming up in all my conversations. I even made my 102 students listen to a page and a half or so. Fascinating, horrifying, and terribly important stuff for anyone who cares about women and girls, religion, war and peace. I'm reading and re-reading (when I should be reading and writing other stuff!) and hoping I remember it all.
Meredith Watts
Nov 28, 2007 Meredith Watts rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in the Muslim world
This book is by the author of last year's Pulitzer winner "March", Geraldine Brooks. This was written based on her experiences as a reporter in the Middle East, trying to understand what it's like to be a Muslim woman in a number of different Islamic countries. Along the way, she studies the Koran, shedding some light on Mohammed's writings. My book club read this book long before the current interest in all things Islam. I would recommend it for that reason; Brooks has no political agenda. She ...more
Definitely worth reading, but do NOT listen to the audiobook narrated by the author. She is a good author, but not a good narrator. Dreary, let me just leave it at that......

The writing reflects that she is trained as a journalist. However, the book is rather unstructured and reads as a group of different stories. Story after story of different Muslim women's experiences in the Middle East in the early 90s. Even if it isn't totally up-to-date you have to understand the past to understand the pr
Ladan F
This is an absolutely fascinating book. Brooks doesn't really bog the reader down with too much "research" - she gives you a good historical and literary background, but she fleshes out that framework with anecdotes from her meetings with Muslim women. Though it is obvious that Brooks abhors the treatment of women under most forms of Islam, she is very careful to show that this is mostly a political issue and NOT actually advocated in the Koran.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a fascinating, if poorly titled, work of nonfiction. Brooks spent several years as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, where she spent time with hundreds of women – some of them newsworthy in their own right, others just average people.

The title gives a false impression of the book on two counts: first, while sex and marriage are discussed, these topics are not the primary focus; and second, the book doesn’t pretend to discuss the lives of Islamic women everywhere – Brooks travel
Deborah Blair
This is one of the best books that I have read that helps Western women really understand what is going on with women in Islam. Because we often do NOT understand, in being "western" we can often cause more harm than good.

In working to help Christian and Jews of the west to understand women of Islam, I have often used this as a reference, a recommendation for church groups, and for people helping women refugees and immigrants from Islamic countries integrate here in the west.

Along with comparat
Islam means submission. This is just one of the facts that I learned from this book. It became not just a fact but an insight as I continued reading it.

The book's excellence is demonstrated in that 13 years after its publication it is still being read. Since its publication there have been many books on this topic, including social studies and personal narratives, but this one still stands out.

Brooks spent 6 years in traveling to Middle Eastern Islamic countries covering the plight of women. Whi
This book was written in 1994, pre-9/11 and pre my interest in the Middle East. I mean I knew a little bit about a couple of countries, but not much. This book changes that. I had read Brooks book, Year of Wonders about the plague, and March, about the Civil War – both excellent books, but I had no idea she was an accomplished journalist whom the Wall Street Journal had sent to the Middle East as a foreign correspondent – and not for six month, but for 6 years. Her curiosity, open mindedness and ...more
Have you ever wondered about the women covered from head to toe? You know that they are Muslim, but do you know anything beyond that?

Geraldine Brooks, in her highly accessible book, explains the plight of Muslim women in the Middle East. She travels from country to country, meeting women and sharing stories with them. From her time with Queen Noor in Jordan to her belly dancing stint in Egypt, Brooks learns about women and their religion and their religion's limitations.

Sometimes frightening and
I had a really hard time getting through this book for two reasons- first it was extremely repetitive, covering the same subjugation of women in Muslim countries. Second I became frustrated with these same issues and found myself boiling with rage, mostly because I see so many of these things happening in our country in the radical right's war on women. The religious fundamentalists of all denominations seem to have an irrational fear of women as an educated, equal segment of society. This book ...more
I LOVE Geraldine Brooks. I think she is an amazingly insightful woman who has an incredible ability to clearly present a difficult concept. I feel like I have a much clearer sense of the Muslim religion and how men and women who practice it interact with each other and the rest of the world. She did an amazing job of personalizing all of these women and their lives and stories for someone from a completely different background. I think that everyone should read this book, especially given the wo ...more
It was gruesome, harrowing, unbelievable. Wish it were a fiction, rather than a fact. After reading the book, my respect for the Muslim women, especially those who thrived in spite of all the religious obstacles grew multifold. It was a quick and thorough journey from the times of Nabi to the present day Muslim countries, well told and breathtaking.
This is my first time -reading the history of Nabi ,his household and the birth and flourishing of Islam. I encountered a platitude of courageous la
Sep 04, 2014 Karima rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Karima by: The F Word
Shelves: feminism, islam
I hated this book. Right from the introduction I got annoyed and knew I was gonna be in for an annoying ride. She starts off this book saying outright that Muslim women are oppressed. What the hell?

bell hooks,Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black, writes "When we write about the experiences of a group to which we do not belong, we should think about the ethics of our action, considering whether or not our work will be used to reinforce and perpetuate domination."

In this case I think sh
Before writing Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks worked as a reporter (Middle East correspondent) for The Wall Street Journal and lived in numerous countries throughout the Middle East for almost a decade. She seems to have been personal friends with everyone: dinners with Queen Noor of Jordan, casual visits with Khomeini’s daughters in Iran, conversations with a woman who personally helped hold the American Embassy hostages at gunpoint in Iran in 1979—all are discussed in the book as though it’ ...more
Very interesting non-fiction book written by an author I knew for her excellent fiction. I had no idea that Geraldine Brooks started her career as a journalist. She talked extensively to women from many walks of life, although more wealthy than not, in many different Islamic countries. Some of these countries are very strict and fundamentalist, such as Saudi Arabia; others are more liberal, such as Egypt. The book was written many years ago. Many countries have become more fundamentalist since t ...more
This book was written in the mid-1990's after Brooks had been stationed as a journalist in the Middle East. I read it before and after 9/11. I think it is still highly relevant today.

Each chapter features an aspect of Islamic culture/beliefs that are practiced today- the wearing of the veil, education of women, clitorectomys, etc. The chapters begin by connecting the issue to the time of Mohammed. Brooks then explores the subject in several Muslim countries that interpret and enforce the issue d
This is a step away from Brooks' novels being a factual and, at times brutal, account of women living in Islamic societies across the Middle East. The book was written in 1995 and it would be interesting if there was an update in view of the wars that have since taken place.

The book focuses closely on women and their experiences within the confines of seclusion. The author was able to live with various women for several weeks at a time seeing at first hand their restrictions of movement and expr
As a non-fiction, I might give this book 4 stars, but compared to fiction, 3 stars is the max. The book read easily and I learned a lot. In the beginning, I had to adjust to how the book was structured, but once I accepted the organization, it made sense.
Toward the end of the book, Brooks asks, "how was it possible to admire her for the courage of her convictions, when her convictions led to such hateful reasoning?" I felt this way throughout the entire book. Part of me wanted to judge this reli
Brooks worked as a journalist in the Middle East. Initially, she was frustrated that female reporters were blocked from many interviews. However, she soon realized that as a woman, she had access to Muslim women and decided to embrace this opportunity.

Brooks talks to a variety of Muslim women -- those who are more Westernized, those who are more fundamentalist, and those who are moving from one side of the spectrum to the other. She interviews Muslim daughters, mothers and sisters, Muslim polit
This book was an excellent objective view of Islam and its effects on women. It tells a story of religious fundementalism that has twisted and rewritten doctrine to serve male leader's purposes and control and subjegate women to the role of not only servants but non-entities. The interesting thing to me and the thing I just do not understand is that these women(and I think women in other cultures as well) are held responsible and ordered to dress and act in certain ways because they are a threat ...more
Nisah Haron
Membaca buku ini membuat saya bersyukur bahawa saya muslimah yang tinggal di negara yang lebih aman. Bayangkan saya tidak boleh memandu kereta sendiri, seperti wanita Arab Saudi? Memakai tudung (chador) hanya berwarna gelap dan pudar di Iran. Islam di Malaysia lebih rasional namun, masih tidak terkikis nilai-nilai Islaminya.

Penulisnya membuat kerja lapangan sebelum menulis buku ini. Dapatan beliau adalah berdasarkan apa yang dilihat dan diberi faham kepadanya pada ketika tersebut. Ada yang kita
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald for three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issu
More about Geraldine Brooks...
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“While I would champion any campaign to support Muslim women who do not wish to cover. I would now also protest vigorously for the right of a woman to wear that covering, if it is what she wants and believes in. Ayatollah Khomeini and Jacques Chirac have much more in common than either of them would care to acknowledge. Each tried to solve overarching social problems by imposing his will on the bodies of women.” 2 likes
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