A thoroughly insightful philosophical approach to the age-old subject that almost all can relate to. I am also very amazed at de Botton's ability to c...moreA thoroughly insightful philosophical approach to the age-old subject that almost all can relate to. I am also very amazed at de Botton's ability to capture all the nuances of romantic love and articulate them in such a profound analysis. He writes so incisively and the story-telling style made it all the more readable. (less)
Like Joumana's last book, I really wanted to like it. I really did. But I just cannot stand the way she writes - she writes in a manner that is both s...moreLike Joumana's last book, I really wanted to like it. I really did. But I just cannot stand the way she writes - she writes in a manner that is both sanctimonious and self-indulgent; a reflection of herself and her obvious narcissism. A real shame because the substance of what she touches upon is good and needs to be addressed. Someone else needs to write this book.(less)
Though I think this is an incredibly important and necessary book, I did find it to be a tad disappointing. This is partly because of the incredibly h...moreThough I think this is an incredibly important and necessary book, I did find it to be a tad disappointing. This is partly because of the incredibly high expectations that I had for it. This can be summed up by the fact that when my friends saw me reading it, they said that it "sounded like [me] in book form" and that instead of reading it, they would just listen to me go on my usual rants. So yeah, there were expectations.
If I could re-write the title, I'd call it "the convoluted rant of a self-indulgent woman." There is something incredibly self-absorbed about this book. Yes, I realise it's a 'confession' but regardless, the book made promises to be, and I quote the blurb, "a provocative exploration of what it means to be an arab woman today."
Don't get me wrong, Haddad makes some excellent points. She addresses the two-faceted hypocrisy which has become an integral element of arab culture, the strife and stifling of expression and double standards that don't just colour or make up a part of our culture but in fact define it. I thought the following quote was a wonderful way to sum it up:
"The Arab human being suffers from the schizophrenia disease: a collective schizophrenia which we all live, divided between what we are told to believe and what we do believe, between what we say and what we do."
Indeed there were many bang-on moments like this throughout, she made many good points and the general message was pertinent, but unfortunately a lot of it was lost amidst the cloud of warbled and convoluted self-absorbed rambling. A good (and not very eloquent word) for this book would be 'shouty.' It's a bit of a temper tantrum, not actually getting to the root of the problem or grasping the point.
I think a reason for her language and manner coming across in this way is a lot to do with the fact that she is a poet, which rendered her incapable of plainly outlining the issue. Except in this instance, her dressing up and fancying of the writing just came across as self-absorbed and really detracted from the point of the text. Furthermore, the fact that she is a poet also meant the book came at it from a predominantly writer/poet angle. Obviously this is to be predicted considering that is what she is, but upon initial contact (and from the blurb/description) the book serves to alludes to be focusing more on being an arab woman rather than an arab woman poet. This focus meant that the book failed to fully indulge and expand on the points that I thought were most important.
To veer off the negative wagon a bit, I really did empathise with all the points that she was (attempting) to make and completely agree with them, 100%. Unfortunately, the manner in which they were conveyed was not to my liking. I still really admire Joumana and the bold daring freedom by which she, as an arab female poet who writes so explicitly on sexual matters in a way scarcely few dare to, expresses herself so rawly and with no restraint. She deserves nothing but acknowledgement and praise for this.
The reason I am giving this book three stars (and so an overall positive review) is because of who Joumana is, and also because any book that acknowledges and attempts to address and bring these incredibly important issues to wider attention and public discourse deserves some positive acknowledgement in its own right. (less)
The fact that a book written 20 years ago continues to be quite as relevant as it was back then is a depressing tale in context of its topic. I contin...moreThe fact that a book written 20 years ago continues to be quite as relevant as it was back then is a depressing tale in context of its topic. I continue to reiterate how important I think this book is, although not perfect with awkward sentences, excess hyperbole and a range of other criticisms, it was still extraordinarily eye-opening. I think the points most relevant and interesting were regarding women and sex, and the ever expanding beauty industry. As the statistics used are from 1991, they should be taken with a pinch of salt, but the points they raise continue to be pertinent.(less)