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In the Eye of the Sun

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  590 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The great English novel about Egypt, which is also the great Egyptian novel about England.
Paperback, 792 pages
Published 1999 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,704)
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jo
Sep 21, 2008 jo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love middlemarch, anna karenina, madame bovary, portrait of a lady, the middle east
***finished this book, and this endless, sprawling review!***

i'm finding myself liking this a lot, yet also being a bit tired of it. i wish it were shorter. at the same time, i deeply enjoy the language and a part of me will be sad when this ends.

as people have pointed out here, soueif is consciously reprising the style of the massive 19th century novel centered around the plight of an unhappy heroine, and the references to Anna Karenina and Middlemarch abound. i have not read Anna Karenina, and
...more
Marcy
I am giving this novel one star and I am being generous. If Soueif ended the novel where I left off two days ago (around page 500), I might have granted it more. The first part of the novel, when the protagonist, Asya, is still in Egypt was bearable. But after she goes to England I could barely stand the novel. For starters, Asya is a whiney, self-absorbed woman who lives a pointless existence. Throughout most of the novel she is working on a dissertation that is on the most boring, superfluous ...more
ياسر ثابت
السرد في هذه الرواية ليس أسير إطار الجسد الناعم ونداءاته المحمومة للاكتمال بالآخر، ولا هو مقيدٌ بإطار الغرف المغلقة ونصف المضاءة، وإنما أعلن عن حضوره المتماهي مع الراهن الثقافي والسياسي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي.
إخفاق الزوج الشرقي في فك رموز الجسد، ونجاح العشيق الغربي في اكتشاف أسرار الأنوثة الكامنة، كان سببـًا رئيسيـًا في الحملة العنيفة التي شنها البعض في العالم العربي على الروائية.
ربما يفسر هذا موقف أهداف سويف من ترجمة "في عين الشمس" إلى اللغة العربية، وقولها إن الترجمات التي عُرضت عليها حتى الآن
...more
Manal
Mar 17, 2013 Manal marked it as to-read
تقريباً 800 صفحة!!.. نفسى أخلصها قبل ما أموت :D
Nile daughter
what a heart breaking book !!
So where should start from ?!
The novel presents life between 1967 to 1980 in the middle east moving to Europe .. , so in the back ground ; we see the historical events that took place in that period ,Egypt , the wars with Israel , Palestine situation ..Jordan ..Lebanon , Saudi Arabia , Syria & Iran , the political transformation From Naser to Sadat , all the detailed changes : economically , socially , culture & even in Urban patterns .

While on the front we
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Catherine
I am finding this book confusing. There are times when I really don't like the format that the author is using. Then I get mad at how stupid the characters seem . . . well, the actions they take. But it still is an interesting view on the history/times in Egypt when Nasser and Sadat were running things, various Egyptian military actions with the Israelis, Suez Canal, young egyptian students thinking they are revolutionaries. Actually, it can be interesting to understand some of the background to ...more
Carmen
In order to read this book I think someone must be interested in both feminine emotions and egyptian culture.
It deals with the maturity of a young egyptian girl belonging to the cultural elite of Cairo during the 60's and 70's. The personal plights she faces about desire, sex, love and affection during her growth are stressed by the fact that she lives abroad for a certain period of time. She discovers through a quite nerve-wracking process that she does not identify herself with the path that h
...more
vani
I have taken this vast, encyclopedic, sometimes messy, and often gorgeous novel with me on train rides and excursions throughout the city, and maybe that's for the best, maybe I wouldn't have appreciated it in one extended, epic, sit-down dose. I was genuinely sad for it to be over, and that doesn't happen really often for me with novels, as much as I read novels.

I tried to figure out what "drives" this book and sustains it past 700 pages. I think, through all nuance and juxtaposition and forma
...more
Tarah
I read this to get a better understanding of the role of women in the Arab world, and I got exactly that. This is a particular perspective – a very educated woman raised in a relatively liberal family in Egypt, living for much of the book in England – but I feel from that perspective I learned a lot. Souief has a knack for including just the right amount of details for readers unfamiliar with the culture and traditions of Egypt. This is a very long book, but it was a fast read, because the writi ...more
Tiffany
This book was recently recommended to me by an Egyptian feminist who said, "Read this book, and you'll understand everything we go through." While I didn't find this book to be as analytical as "A Border Passage" - it is billed as fiction, after all - I thought "In the Eye of the Sun" was deeply reflective and moving. As a woman living in Egypt, educated in the West (as a grad student, no less), and struggling to understand the WHY of things here, I thought it was an excellent read. I don't know ...more
Sarah
This was incredibly powerful, so much so that at times it made me dizzy. There were two components to this coming of age story that were fascinating: first, the complex male-female relationships and the brutally accurate ups and downs of a marriage. The second was the middle eastern setting; Soueif placed her characters against a political background, which made the novel rich and fascinating. I came out of it floored by the emotional aspects of the novel and as well as feeling as if I'd gained ...more
Leah
This book reminds me of Richardson's Pamela, where I kept on cheering on the narrator in her quest at suicide. Except Asya doesn't really attempt suicide. Oddly, though, I found myself unable to put this book down, which is a feat considering that it is a thick tome that inspires thoughts of what paraphernalia I might be able to hide within its covers given a sharp X-acto knife and some paper-cutting skills. Nonetheless I can't be too mean considering how doggedly I continued to read this thing. ...more
Samantha Deakin
I enjoyed reading this book but I don't really know why. Some of the characters are interesting but often frustrating. I didn't finish the book feeling good about the ending or bad.

It is a very long book and the first couple of chapters seem completely out of place from the rest of the story. Even when I got to the end which I had assumed would bring you back round to the point of the first chapter (which was set further in the future than the majority of the book), I still couldn't figure out
...more
ماهر Battuti
رواية صادقة من مؤلفة متمرسة فى أدب الرواية العالمية ، تقص فيها أحداث حياة دارسة أكاديمية تقف بين عالمين ، فى مصر وفى إنجلترا . وهى فى لغة سلسة وسرد على درجة عالية من الحرفية . ولا يخفى على القارئ وجود بعض الملامح الذاتية فى الأحداث
Zainab Magdy
Sensational...moved me like no other book. Beautiful in every sense
Julia
I had read Soueif's book "The Map of Love" a few years ago and loved it. Reading this one second, I found it to be equally absorbing but so different. The first half really swept me away with the coming of age stories, different character perspectives, and introduction of relationships. Add a consistent narrative of the political climate in Egypt (which carries throughout the entire novel) regarding issues with Israel and defining the relationship with Palestine (the novel covers 60's, 70's, end ...more
L
I deeply loved this book. At one & the same time it was a beautiful book to read, with wonderful characters, but also a painful book to read, with characters you just want to shake some sense into. I guess that means the Soueif has written engaging, believeable characters about who you very much care. It was painful and annoying as all get out to follow Asya as she virtually conspires with others to make a hash of her life. She is modern and free, while at the same time, a passive victim. Ye ...more
Debbie
This was a great, great book. Great in its hefty, many-paged hugeness as well as the scope of the story it told.

The story flips between life in a sometimes-war-torn and always-in-turmoil Egypt against the rainy and grey and extremely 'normal' England. The contrasts between life in the heat, and life in the cold; life in Muslim and Arab worlds with life in Westernised countries; sexual freedom and sexual inhibitions are all excellent.

We are plunged into the life of a fallible human being. The le
...more
Hday
I wanted to love this book, but I didn't. I found it to be slow reading for me. It took me at least a year to get through though that could have been grad schools fault
Kymberlie
So far this book is amazing! However, my semester started before I could finish, so I'll be in suspense until December. I think it's a fantastic window into the lives of women in the contemporary Middle East, and in particular, the choices they are faced with vis-a-vis marriage, sex, and love. It's really beautifully written, too.

So now I'm finished, and I have to say, I liked this book more when I reading it this summer. I still like it very much. However, there were at least 100 pages during w
...more
Mohamed El
An Egyptian girl/woman (the book starts with her at a fairly young age), heavily exposed to western culture, trying to maintain her eastern identity, a struggle many Egyptian girls are dealing with now a days. Too descriptive at times, but a good read nonetheless, would recommend to anyone with some sort of identity crisis, or is interested in that topic. I gave it three starts because some parts were too descriptive and i had to force myself to read through them, I would just recommend reading ...more
Jennifer
I loved "The Map of Love" and therefore was eager to read another book by Ahdaf Soueif. I was totally absorbed in the beginning of this book. Events in Eygpt and around the Middle East are interwoven with the life story of the main character, Asya, and her family and friends. Later in the book, when Asya is suffering in an unhappy marriage and an unstimulating graduate school program in England, the book starts to move painfully slowly, but when she gets back to Eygpt the book feels alive again.
siga
read this book because it was written by an egyptian woman and gives a woman's prespective on life in egypt during the 60's and 70's. the book started out strong but then lost me with the female lead character. i found myself, over and over, saying to myself, "really? are you serious? you behave like a spoiled brat." having lived in cairo for a while and having got to know egyptian women, i found this book was not true to women's strength of character.
Deborah
It does ramble a bit at times but a fascinating story of an Egyptian woman growing up in Egypt in the 70s and her confusion and struggle to find an identity. She comes to England and studies Linguistics at a university in 'the North of England' which anyone who has been will easily recognise as Lancaster. This confuses everything even further. Which was pretty much my experience of Linguistics at Lancaster too!
Yosh Han
I enjoyed reading it more or less. It was a bit long but I enjoyed being in that time period and in the Middle East. I appreciated the protagonists' situation between her husband, family and lover in London. A glimpse into a culture that I didn't know that much about. I think this particular family is different than the stereotype because of their social standing. I have another one of Soueif's books on my shelf.
Noha Assem
couldn't force myself to read past the point where the author narates how many teaspoons are added to the sugar! BORING
Jennifer
Kind of a pot boiler, multiple-generational saga but interesting because of it's frank, very nuanced description of relationships between men and women. My take: if you're going to be female and live in a muslim country, try to be wealthy, live in a big city and choose Egypt over, say, Afghanistan. But, mostly,don't. Even the most enlightened Arab countries are fairly beastly to women.
Yasmin
Sprawling novel about a privileged young Egyptian woman, Asya, beginning with her as a teenager and following her for a decade of her life. Family, love, marriage, the political climate of the 60's and 70's in the Middle East, are all feature. I loved it and felt I could really relate to the protagonist. Her writing, characters, and descriptions are especially wonderful.
Khaled Abdelhady
The book is great, many thoughts and great feelings that make you really close to the main character Asya, but the book was really really long (780 pages) and at sometimes I felt bored, the book could have been shorter and yet be as great as it is now
The best part was the last 300 pages, I think this part was so real and so full of feelings.
Jeanine
for me this book started out good, but nothing special. but as i kept on, i was surprised how i couldn't put it down. this woman's experience over the length of her young life in tinged with history of the area. i only wanted one more perspective from the husband before the book concluded. life as a novel. . .
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Ahdaf Soueif (Arabic: أهداف سويف) is an Egyptian short story writer, novelist and political and cultural commentator. She was educated in Egypt and England - studied for a PhD in linguistics at the University of Lancaster. Her novel The Map of Love(1999) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and subsequently translated into 16 languages. Soueif writes primarily in English, but her Arabic-speak ...more
More about Ahdaf Soueif...
The Map of Love زينة الحياة I Think of You: Stories في مواجهة المدافع : رحلة فلسطينية Aisha

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“She had been wrong to think it wouldn't matter that much to him, yes, he took her for granted, of course he did , but he took her for granted - not like an old coat in the corner of a dark cupboard, as she'd put it to herself , but like the very air that he breathed .” 72 likes
“You know, I've been thinking: all the women in the books you like -- Sartre and Camus and all that -- they don't really exist. Not as people. They're only there to wait for the men. To love them and be loved back or not -- mostly not; to be beaten up or killed; to appear as a face on the wall of Meurseault's cell--” 29 likes
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