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Women of Sand and Myrrh

3.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  737 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
A powerful and moving novel, by the Arab world'sleading woman novelist, about four women copingwith the insular, oppressive society of an unnameddesert state. ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 1st 1992 by Anchor (first published 1982)
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The first time he asked how to say 'good morning' in English and American and found they were the same, he exclaimed in surprise, 'Praise the Lord! They're the same as each other inside and out!'
Whenever I see a book by a woman of color with a super low rating and/or reviews littered all over with a variation on the theme of "didn't like the characters = main reason for not liking the book", I sigh and crack my fingers and pull on my gloves. More often than not this "didn't like the characters
Nov 21, 2012 Methodtomadness rated it liked it
So Women of Sand and Myrrh is a better book than most people are giving it credit for, albeit not a fantastic one. Read it more like a Middle Eastern Virginia Woolf novel, and it makes more sense. The news here is not that "hey, women living in unnamed generic Islamic countries can feel oppressed," but that Hanan Al-Shaykh, in 1980-something, was writing such a nuanced account of the very specific ways that female sexuality could be circumscribed and/or redirected in such a world. The internal f ...more
Nojood Alsudairi
May 22, 2009 Nojood Alsudairi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arabic-books, fiction
من الغريب أن تتشابه شخصية نورة الصحراوية وشخصية سوزان الأمريكية في الفحش مع فارق أن الأولى تكره الصحراء بينما تحبها الثانية. بينما تتشابه سهى اللبنانية وتمر الجنوبية في رفضهما للوضع الذي وجدتا أنفسهما فيه والخروج من المأزق.
أربع نجمات للأسلوب أما القصة فتشبه تلك القصص الأمريكية التي تؤلف عن العرب بحيث تأخذ كل القصص العجيبة والنادرة وتجمعها في قصة واحدة. ليتها أتقنت ولو لهجة واحدة من لهجات دول الخليج لكانت أكثر مصداقية. اللهجة المستخدمة مزيج مضحك من كلمات قد يستخدمها القصيبي في حلقات طاش ما طاش: "
It took me a while to pin down my feelings for this book. It raises so many, it was really hard to wade through them all and work out what I thought of the book as a whole.

The book is 4 intertwining stories about 4 different women within a very strict, restrictive Islamic society within the Middle East. The best I can find is Saudi Arabia is probably the closest with these restrictions. I loved that this was from the women's perspective which gave us an insight into a world half of us would neve
Rachel Estridge
Mar 07, 2014 Rachel Estridge rated it really liked it
Many of the reviews, I believe, are unfair. The English translation was heavily edited. The name of the book, and therefore, the meaning of the story was altered. Even the order of the perspectives were swapped around! This definitely changed our idea of who was the protagonist and who's story we should really be following. If this book was read as it is told in its original form, we would have seen it as Al-Shaykh intended. This story is very important for Middle Eastern feminism, identity, and ...more
مريم ناصر
هدى و ايفون , فتاتان مهاجرتان من لبنان , تقضيان يوماً على الشاطئ, و كلاً منهما تحمل حكاية مدسوسة تحت قطعتي المايوه,
هدى بتربيتها الصارمة , تعشق البحر و تخشاه لأنها في ذاكرتها تحمل مساحة سوداء شاسعة من النواح حين أكتشف والدها أنها تسبح في شاطئ مغلق و تتعرى أمام نسوة مثلها!
و ايفون بنت البحر, الأنثى جداً و التي لا تريدها أمها أن تكون أفضل من شقيقها و تعد نجاحها سبب متعمد ليفشل أخوتها الذكور, حتى حين رمت نفسها من الصخرة المحرمة, وبختها لأنها كانت سبب في (إحراج)شقيقها الأكبر لأنه لم يتجرأ و يفعلها هو
Nov 11, 2015 Cecilia rated it really liked it
I liked it, though bits of it were not that interesting but the one where the spoiled princess chick is using uppers and downers to get through her day because life was that boring and at the end of the book , all that they could offer her to make her feel better was a stuff load of PUNK outfits and PUNK hairspray to color her hair ....well...that got me interested in PUNK and then I ended up doing some art gigs with the real PUNK people that inspired her allusions to the outfits in the book...s ...more
Feb 24, 2012 Lina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
سلبيات سلبيات سلبيات ..و لا ايجابية واحدة ذكرتها!
Feb 02, 2008 Renee rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like angsty "women's stories"
Good concept: poor execution.

Four disparate Middle Eastren women -- who know or know of each other -- tell their stories about women's lives in a fundamentalist male-dominated society. Each woman's story adds another POV to what's going on with all the other characters.

I thought it would be an interesting approach to first-person narrative. The idea, I assume, was to give the reader a view of each character from internal and external POVs. Unfortunately, the writer failed to deliver. The narra
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Feb 04, 2013 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
من السهل التسرع في الحكم على الرواية لو انتظرنا حبكة وأحداث متسلسلة في صورة قصة. والمؤلفة تستخدم التكنيك الانطباعي المعروف لدى فيرجينيا ولف حيث يتم تسجيل الانطباعات وكما تدور في داخل النفس وبالتالي حبكة الأحداث غير متوقعة بل "تيار الوعي". وباستخدام هذا التكنيك والذي يتبع منهج "قول يا بوزيد قول واحنا معاك للصبح" تقوم ستات قمرات بسرد حكايتهن وكل واحدة تقول حكايتها وتشكو هم الحياة في الصحراء وكم أنها تحلم بالحرية وقد ملت وقرفت من كل هذا الكبت والكبح والقمع.. الكتاب يعجبني في جرأته وعرض الميول السح ...more
Feb 01, 2014 Aziza rated it liked it
Since the “undetermined Gulf state” the cover claims the novel is about is without a doubt Saudi Arabia and this novel also focuses on four female protagonists, readers might be tempted to compare Women of Sand and Myrrh with Raja Abdallah Sabi’s Girls of Riyadh. Nonetheless, while the latter are still young (and sometimes make dumb choices because of it), Shaykh’s women are mature and should know better. Unfortunately, they are rather unsympathetic.

Of the four main characters only Jameela is re
Apr 25, 2010 Zillah rated it it was ok
l must admit l expected a lot more from this book, especially after reading reviews on the cover when l was buying it..
it's composed in an interesting way, divided into 4 parts, each telling a story of one woman, while all four are connected in some way..
the writing style didn't impress me one bit though, and sometimes l struggled with following the story since it jumps from past to present without giving a clear impression of the time..
Jan 19, 2014 Andrea rated it did not like it
I feel kinda bad even giving this book a rating because I didn't finish it. It is one of only a handful of books I gave up on. I got a third of the way through it and just couldn't take anymore. I hated the characters! It was like reading about a bunch of melodramatic, over-angsted teenagers acting for a MTV reality show. I'm not belittling the problems women in the Middle East have faced but these narrators were so whiny and self-absorbed. They couldn't empathize at all with each other when the ...more
Jun 11, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok
Was disappointed. The author conveyed the clastrophobic atmosphere of being a woman in an Islamic country rather well but I just didn't like the characters. I understand how stunted their lives were and how that molded their personalities, but it went on and on and on.
Mary Petit
Oct 25, 2011 Mary Petit rated it liked it
Really intresting to read the thoughts and feelings as well as the daily life of what it may be like to live in a land so different from what we're used to, the story line was great and I really was invested in the women's lives.
Apr 26, 2010 ASP rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
J'ai acheté ce livre à l'occasion d'un voyage dans les EAU: quelle déception! mal écrit, ennuyeux, mal ficelé je me demande si le (très) peu que j'ai appris sur cette région du globe est vrai ou, horreur, cliché!
May 02, 2015 Nadia rated it liked it
I went in expecting this to be messy (it was) but still found parts of it interesting in spite of it.
Nov 18, 2008 Daryle rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub
I loved the idea of this book, but just couldn't get into it. I'm not sure if it was the writing style, translation, or story. A bit of a disappointment.
May 22, 2015 T rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, middle-east
Really this book was 2.75 stars because of the 4 women, not all of their stories were of interest. Suzanne the crazy American held the least interest for me. Many things made this tale drag;reading a book of people who are bored is boring to read. Other often-repeated tales of Arabia are included here for example, the story of the women who do not believe that the lunar landing ever happened. "Because the moon is so small, how could a man stand on it."
One women managed to educate herself and use
Jan 08, 2016 Kristin rated it liked it
The book is well written and the characters well-developed, and the book does provide an interesting window into the lives of Arab women in a Gulf desert country... but I found the book rather depressing to be honest. I have considered moving to the Middle East for a variety of reasons, and this was a book that definitely destroys any of the "romance" involved in such an idea/move, as it highlights all of the restrictions on women. Physical, yes, of course, but more the intellectual and social r ...more
Saleem Khashan
Dec 07, 2009 Saleem Khashan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
أنا مافي أقدر أخلص هذا الكتاب صديق أنا مافي أفهم المطلوب مازا؟
May 13, 2012 Rhoda rated it really liked it
An amazing view into a foreign world, sensitively translated
Dec 19, 2011 Creative rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
لازالت في ذاكرتي بعض من مقاطع الروايه حتى بعد سنوات من قراءتها ...more
Sahar محفوظ
رواية قوية ومحبوكة بأسلوب رائع وسلس، اختيار الكلمات والتوصيف أعطاها ثقلاً نوعياً وتوازناً وارتياحاً للقارئ، خاصة مع تقطيع الجمل بطريقة فنية حرفية
صراحتها الزائدة للبعض ربما ينفرهم منها، وكذلك دورانها في معظم الأجزاء حول نفس الموضوع-الهوس، ولكن ما يشفع لها اقترابها من حقيقة مريرة لا نستطيع الهرب منها أو نكرانها.

طريقتها رائعة في التنقل بسلاسة عبر 4 شخصيات رئيسية تأخذنا معها الى ظروفها ومحيطها فنعيش ضمنها ونشتم عطرها ونأكل من طعامها.
بعد هذه الرواية، سوف أبحث عن روايات أخرى لحنان الشيخ حتى أستمتع بأ
Oct 28, 2012 Bayan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
صادقة لدرجة مؤلمة
Aug 16, 2015 Jennyb rated it liked it
I liked "Women of Sand and Myrrh" a good bit, despite none of its characters being especially likeable. The book is divided into first-person narratives of four female characters in "an unnamed desert state," which it is virtually impossible NOT to identify as Saudi Arabia. First there is Suha, a Lebanese woman it is likewise impossible not to identify with Hanan al-Shaykh herself. Suha follows her husband to the desert when his job takes him there. She is an educated woman who wants to do somet ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Nazrinsaad rated it liked it
Susah betul nak habiskan buku ni. Tiga bulan bukan masa yg singkat.

Kekangan masa dan subteks yg banyak di dalam novel ini membuatkan aku kadang kala 'penat' membaca.

Kisah Suha - wanita bandar yg terpaksa tinggal di padang pasir (penulis merujuk latar tempat hanya sbg padang pasir membuatkan pembaca bebas berimaginasi di mana latar tempat ianya terjadi).

Tamr - gadis lokal yg menghadapi cabaran untuk memajukan diri dari masyarakat dan keluarga yg konservatif.

Suzanne - Wanita asing yg jatuh cinta
Oct 23, 2008 Christy rated it liked it
Four women live in an unnamed Arabic desert-country, reacting differently to the enclosed world they inhabit:

Suha: a "foreigner" who is suffocating under the weight of the heavy fabric she must inhabit, the small lot she is allowed in life. Cannot wait to leave the desert.

Tamr: desires to open her own store and must risk infuriating her family and shaming her male relations.

Suzanne: a voluptuous American woman who is thrilled to live in the desert, as she stands out and can command respect wit
Jan 19, 2016 Cassie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: travel readers
Recommended to Cassie by: Kia
Shelves: global-travels
There are four women central to this novel's structure are more alike than they are portrayed. While they are all struggling in their own circumstances to find their place, blend in, stand out, or make a name for themselves, few of them try to get out of their situations. They create their own prisons, but don't ever try to escape. Suha is the only one who, after pages and pages of complaining and voluntary isolation, chooses to gather herself together and find a way out. Tamr has her temper tan ...more
الرواية عبارة في الحقيقة عن قصص متصلة منفصلة لأربع سيدات جمعهن العيش في بلد صحراوي غير محدد – في إحدى دول الخليج -. تروي كل منهن قصتها مع المجتمع المحيط، فيبحر القاريء في أفكار السيدات، هواجسهن أخطائهن و قراراتهن

تناقش الكاتبة حنان الشيخ الكبت في هذا البلد و ما يسببه من ردود أفعال لدى كل سيدة مستخدمة أسلوب ما يسمى بتيار الوعي لتروي وجهة نظر كل شخصية و ما يجول في خاطرها. ليكتشف القاريء الأسباب التي قد تؤدي بزوجة و أم لطفل إلى علاقة محرمة مع امرأة أخرى و كيف ترى نفسها بعد أن تجد أنها وقعت في المحظو
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500 Great Books B...: Women of Sand and Myrrh - Hanan al-Shaykh 2 18 Aug 12, 2015 10:05AM  
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Hanan Al-Shaykh (Arabic: حنان الشيخ) is a Lebanese journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and playwright.
Al-Shaykh was born into a conservative Shia' Muslim family. She received her primary education in Beirut, and later she attended the American College for Girls in Cairo.
Al-Shaykh began her journalism career in Egypt before returning to Lebanon. She has also lived in Saudi Arabia and is curr
More about Hanan Al-Shaykh...

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