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Memoirs from the Women's Prison

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,828 ratings  ·  253 reviews
Often likened to Rigoberta Menchu and Nadine Gordimer, Nawal El Saadawi is one of the world's leading feminist authors. Director of Health and Education in Cairo, she was summarily dismissed from her post in 1972 for her political writing and activities. In 1981 she was imprisoned by Anwar Sadat for alleged "crimes against the State" and was not released until after his as ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published November 18th 1994 by University of California Press (first published March 1st 1982)
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Clumsy Storyteller
Great memoir by a Great author/ doctor i love Nawal Al Saadawi she had my attention and admiration when she spoke about gender equality and after reading her journal in women's prison i respect her even more. i don't care what's your religion or thoughts about what she does, No one deserves to be imprisoned with no charges or just for speaking her mind! Nawal was born a free woman in a misogynist society, she refused to be treated with nothing but respect , she fought for equal rights for men an ...more
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
There are some book titles which catch the eye of people passing by and folks cannot help but comment. Memoirs from the Women's Prison by Nawal El Saadawi is one of the books. I read this book while waiting for w squared to begin, on the airplane, and while waiting for my car to get serviced. One of my new favorite t-shirt says "Speak Justice." When I wear the t-shirt while reading the book, several folks did double takes. This amused me. My favorite exchange about this book went something like ...more
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was required reading for my Global Literature class at the University of Utah.

El Saadawi relates her experience in prison with the bold voice of truth and bravery. Her fight against corruption and the oppression of free speech and women's rights will resonate with readers long after the final page is turned.
Oumaima Boutbagha
I've always respected Dr. Saadaoui. Such an amazing personality, brave and defending everything she stands for no matter what.
The book is great. The language is so simple which eases the way of each idea and emotion so that you can fully grasp it. It's funny, how sometimes I'd imagine a person eveb before she starts describing them, and then find my image completely identical to her description. It showed me how I was so into the book and the stories it tells.
I related to many things in this b
Rana Rafeh
3.5 stars
This is a compelling memoir by Egyptian writer and women's rights advocate Nawal el Saadawi of her time as a political prisoner under the regime of Anwar Sadat. In it she forcefully argues against the arbitrariness of the repression under Sadat and shoots darts at those who relinquish their freedom of speech and integrity in order to curry favour from a deeply unjust ruling clique. But beyond her politics, the memoir also offers a glimpse into the relationships built between the female prisoners ...more
Madeleine McLaughlin
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I don't know much about modern Egypt so I read this book about a famous women writer sent to jail because of Sadat. Very interesting and not the horror story of other middle-east women who have been to prison, these women were relatively well-treated. No torture. If you want to learn about this woman or Egypt, then try this small book. ...more
May 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will read anything this woman has written and will not stop til I've read everything out there which has been translated to English :')
She is such an inspiration to me and millions of women and men around the globe, which now continues after her death and will for many, many more generations, I'm sure.
One of my favourite passages of hers in the afterword -
"Danger has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a pen and wrote. Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies. Nothi
Lina Halim
Jul 05, 2022 rated it really liked it
An account of the life of a prominent Egyptian writer’s experience being senators by Sadat during his last few months in power. The urge of writing in a reality were pen and paper are more dangerous weapons than any rifle gun. A call for nationalism, peace and human rights from the women’s barrage prison. An important read to understand militantisme under dictatorship in a Muslim country.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My oh my, I really enjoyed every word in this book. The whole book talks about the time Nawal El-Saadawi was in jail because she was - still - someone who advocate for free speech. She talks in detail the whole process of how she got caught and how life in prison was for a while under Anwar Al Sadat rule. It is my favorite book by her so far. One of the things I enjoyed She always put her flashback and thoughts between the lines. I will definitely going to reread this book again.
Reema Tbaileh
This book was a nice read,, trying to find hope while you are in your lowest low,, forcing your body to adapt and keeping your sanity,, standing for your beliefs no matter what this lady is so powerful and and strong
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very important book about women's expierence in prison ...more
Feb 08, 2022 added it
Shelves: owned
No rating.

Read it for a class
Lindsey Lee
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book rocked my world so severely. Nothing has made me believe in the strength of the human spirit quite like this very strong womens story.
I never want to be imprisoned in a developing world prison. That's an understatement. This book was beautifully written, but not all that interesting. ...more
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing read. Very eye opening. Inspiring work by a woman dedicated to the liberation of women's rights. Really put into perspective the progress made when compared to present day issues. ...more
Yasmeen Abdlhak
A book i will never forget
Nawal El Saadawi was the Director of Health and Education in Cairo and a radical political writer before she was dismissed from her post in 1972 and arrested for "crimes against the state" in 1981. She wasn't released until after Anwar Sadat was assassinated. She describes her arrest and firsthand accounts of life in the women's prison, how she clung to writing as a way to get her through. I was a little uncomfortable with some of Nawal's positions, but isn't that why we read? To examine our dis ...more
Feb 25, 2022 rated it it was amazing
When I saw the title of the book, I thought it would be grim and dark. But on the contratry, Nawal El Saadawi emits strength and hope through her writing even in the most desperate situations. We need more women like Nawal El Saadawi who are not afraid to speak up and demand for their rights in the face of oppression.
This memoir felt novel-like with effortleslly flowing and eloquate writing. I enjoyed how Nawal El Saadawi brought presence to everything she did and savoured the small moments of j
Sophia Steiner
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Fearing servility, people become servile.”

“We will destroy this prison! We will not die without noise!”

“True democracy obtains only when the people - women, men, young people, children - have the ability to change the system of industrial capitalism that has oppressed them since the earliest days of slavery: a system based on class division, patriarchy, and military might, a hierarchical system that subjugated people merely because they are born poor, or female, or dark-skinned.”
Jennifer Phillips
Dec 02, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book recounts Nawal El Saadawi's arrest and imprisonment for the crime of having an opinion in Anwar Sadat's Egypt. In it, El Saadawi explores the essence of democracy and free speech within the nitty gritty, day-to-day experience of life as a political prisoner. *Memoirs From a Women's Prison* took me to new places geographically and politically. And, it taught me how beauty can take root in bleak environments. Stirring and strong. ...more
Benjamin Linzy
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In this memoir of her time as a political prisoner, Saadawi recalls how imprisoned women reached across intellectual divides to form alliances to advocate for better treatment. This account of Egyptian women's resistance to state violence offers fascinating insights into the formation of the women's community. ...more
Maryam Alwan
Oct 12, 2022 rated it liked it
A much more (comparatively) lighthearted account of prison; I loved the camaraderie that grew between the women—including the shawisha! It was a very easy read with some profound quotes, but left something to be desired. Perhaps I’ve just grown accustomed to the more powerful narratives. I also didn’t appreciate the subtle interspersing of the author’s own anti-Islam views.
sarah rogan
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
found this on a shelf of books that hav been left behind at natalias appt. very quickly became a new book that i would 10/10 recommend to anyone. i hav notes all over the margins. rlly if ur interested in freedom of speech and women’s studies read this <3
Rebecca Mariana Bengtsson
Jun 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Danger has been a part of my life ever since I picked up a pen and wrote. Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies. Nothing is more perilous than knowledge in a world that has considered knowledge a sin since Adam and Eve” - Nawal El Saadawi, 1994
reba m
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i cried
i wanna b a doctor
I read it in English, very interesting book. I traveled through it and felt like I lived her experience. May her soul rest in peace.
Vika Gardner
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wow, I can't believe how much more effective this was than her fiction! It's Ms. Saadawi's account of her unjust arrest and imprisonment in the early 80's. The writing is clear and vivid- descriptive, but more journalistic than the emotionally charged prose of her fiction. I wish it were more closely edited, though- there are some weird, disorienting tense shifts (sloppy translating?) but maybe later editions address those issues.

I'll be reviewing it for The Blue Bookcase next week.
Penelope, pronounced comme tu veux
I've heard Nawaal talk about writing this book (I even got to drive her to a talk about creativity) and I was wondering if anyone had any copies kicking around? ...more
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كسر الحدود 1 16 Sep 24, 2012 08:42AM  

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Nawal El Saadawi (Arabic: نوال السعداوي) was born in 1931, in a small village outside Cairo. Unusually, she and her brothers and sisters were educated together, and she graduated from the University of Cairo Medical School in 1955, specializing in psychiatry. For two years, she practiced as a medical doctor, both at the university and in her native Tahla.

From 1963 until 1972, Saadawi worked as Dir

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“ربما لا يشعر الإنسان بالخطر إلا وهو خارجه ،فإذا ما أصبح في قلب الخطر صار جزاء منه ولم يعد يشعر به.” 70 likes
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الانتظار يحول الزمن الى اللازمن ، والشئ الى اللاشئ ، والمعنى الى اللامعنى”
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