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Contemporary Lit | Planning > Gender in North Africa (April-June 2014)

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Hello! the random match-up i conducted has given us "gender in North Africa" as our second theme for contemporary literature.

A reminder about basic rules for this project: the author must be African, but the setting can be anywhere. Since we are making use of "regions" this year, however, book selection could look like this: An author from anywhere in Africa writing (in some way) about gender issues in North Africa OR an author from a North African country writing about gender anywhere in the world.

Let's here your suggestions! We will poll for two fiction works and one non-fiction.


message 2: by Lucinda (last edited Feb 09, 2014 03:37PM) (new)

Lucinda | 39 comments Here are some suggestions:

Assia Djebar children of the New World
Assia Djebar So Vast the Prison
Leila Abouzeid Last Chapter
Leila Abouzeid Year of the Elephant A Moroccan Woman's Journey Toward Independence
Homa Hoodfar Between Marriage and the Market Intimate politics and survival in Cairo (this is non-fiction and I do not know how widely available it is)


message 3: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Thanks, Lucinda! And I should add to the above guidelines that a North African writer writing about North Africa totally counts. :)


message 4: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments I'll need to have a bit of think... hm. Will be back later, hopefully with some ideas. ;)


message 5: by Jamila (last edited Feb 09, 2014 08:29PM) (new)

Jamila | 14 comments Non-fiction:
Geographies of Muslim Women (this is an anthology but we can concentrate on the essays specifically located in North Africa)

Transfigurations of the Maghreb: Feminism, Decolonization, and Literatures by Winifred Woodhull (this concentrates specifically on Francophone works in the Maghreb--she discusses Djebar as well as other male authors with a feminist framework)

African Women Writing Resistance (another anthology... also something where we can focus on North African testimonies only. This has the benefit of not being maghrebian-focused though)

Nomadic Voices of Exile: Feminine Identity in Francophone literature of the Maghreb by Valerie Orlando (ok, ok another focus on francophone works... I know it's a pattern, hehe. She looks at Assia Djebar, Leïla Sebbar, Hajer Djilani, Malika Mokeddem, and Tahar Ben Jelloun's enfant de sable and its sequel La nuit sacrée, so it's a really good fit for other readings we're doing in other projects)


message 7: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments I think any of Assia Djebar's novels would be a good choice for North Africa/gender. :) Below are two of hers that I've been wanting to read for a while...

Women of Algiers in Their Apartment or Fantasia by Assia Djebar

Some other suggestions:
Algerian Childhood by Leïla Sebbar
God Dies by the Nile by Nawal El Saadawi
And maybe The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif?? (not sure if people consider it to fit well into 'gender'??)

Here's a non-fiction suggestion: Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatema Mernissi


message 8: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I think Souief'a other book "Eye of the Sun" fits better (sorry, using my phone and unable to link to the book!)

It's long, but excellent. I liked it a lot more than Map of Love.


message 9: by Jamila (new)

Jamila | 14 comments I'd love to read anything Assia Djebar (I did my master's on her works). I wasn't impressed by children of the new world, it's not as world-shattering as Fantasia. But Fantasia is huge! it took me a long time to get through it.


message 10: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Thank you Jamiella and Lucinda and Marieke - added your recommendations to my list = )


message 11: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments And Muphyn as well!


message 12: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
wow so we did already generate a good list, huh? this is exciting. also i love how well it ties in to our Morocco stop, which will be ending...now we can continue a fascinating gender discussion! :)


message 13: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 543 comments Not sure if I am too late but if not I would like to nominate the following book - I know the book format is a little different than most of our book nominations.

Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region

The fourth volume, focused on Northern Africa, includes more than 100 texts from Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. This pioneering volume includes works from 3000 BCE to the present; from an Egyptian Queen's marriage proposal to contemporary women promoting new marriage and family laws. In addition to Berber poetry and oral history, much prose in the volume is original, and many names will resonate with modern readers, including Leila Abou Zeid, Amina Arfaoui, Salwa Bakr, Assia Djebar, Nawal El Saadawi, and Fatima Mernissi. Important themes include polygamy, FGM, the veil, education, and political participation.


message 14: by Lucinda (last edited Feb 20, 2014 08:14AM) (new)

Lucinda | 39 comments Beverly wrote: "Not sure if I am too late but if not I would like to nominate the following book - I know the book format is a little different than most of our book nominations.

[book:Women Writing Africa: The N..."


wow fascinating book! Reading that together would be equal to taking a 'distance-learning' course ! :) Particularly with all the different expertise and educations of different contributors, lol.


message 15: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Gosh, guys! i am running into my old problem of losing track of time. SORRY! i will set the poll up shortly...


message 16: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
And here are the top 5 books (for our first fiction selection) according to the randomizer:

The Sacred Night
Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories
So Vast the Prison
children of the New World
Women of Algiers in Their Apartment


message 17: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Ooooh, some great choices there!!


message 18: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Okay, Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories will be our first fiction selection for gender in North Africa. Stay tuned for the opening of the discussion thread and for the second two polls...


message 19: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Hey! I just found my copy from college when I was looking for another book! :)


message 20: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Sweet! I've managed to get hold of a copy and will read soonish...


message 21: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments I enjoyed this book a lot!
here are my thoughts


message 22: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Zanna wrote: "I enjoyed this book a lot!
here are my thoughts"


Great! I finally opened a book-specific discussion thread. Hopefully more of us will have read some of the stories shortly:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 23: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I'm really sorry everyone at how I have dropped the ball with this. I'm going to set up a poll today for nonfiction. I'm wondering if there is interest in a second fiction selection?


message 24: by Lucinda (last edited May 26, 2014 07:51AM) (new)

Lucinda | 39 comments I'm in! I just finished Women of Algiers in their Apartment and it was outstanding. I feel like I need to read more of her work to fully understand some of her points though. Her discussion on language and feminism is very interesting. I had never thought of the relationship between the colloquial and the feminine in that way. I guess it makes more sense in the context of the cloistered women living in the region.
Plus I love it when writers use colloquial language. it brings the orality (is that a word?) of story-telling back to the fore.


message 25: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments I'd be in, providing I can get hold of the book! :D


message 26: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
okay! i did it, finally! i have set up the poll for non-fiction. I couldn't include all the suggestions because the author needs to be African. But i think we have a decent selection to choose from and i hope a few of you feel inspired!


message 27: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 39 comments Marieke wrote: "okay! i did it, finally! i have set up the poll for non-fiction. I couldn't include all the suggestions because the author needs to be African. But i think we have a decent selection to choose from..."

LOL on that last submission posted on the list... why wasn't that statement posted on this thread?


message 28: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Lucinda wrote: "Marieke wrote: "okay! i did it, finally! i have set up the poll for non-fiction. I couldn't include all the suggestions because the author needs to be African. But i think we have a decent selectio..."

haha! ummm...i (maybe foolishly) allowed write-ins because our choices were so thin.


message 29: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 39 comments But seriously, though, it is an interesting and important statement and I am sad that this person did not post such a comment on our thread (or does the suggestion itself count as a post?).

Is the West obssessed with 'the veil'? Certainly, veiling unsettles all kinds of notions of the body (women's bodies), selfhood and public and private life within 'western' thought. This fascination is about othering as much as it is about our own social pathologies/ neuroses. But there are women from North Africa who also write about the veil, including one of the authors suggested in the post, Leila Ahmed A Quiet Revolution . Are women like Assia Djebar and Fatima Mernissi writing like Western feminists? Is the poster suggesting that they are? What does that say about Identity and positionality?

These are just some preliminary thoughts on that very interesting posting... and they are meant in the spirit of open discussion as my questions really are questions :)


message 30: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I feel the same Lucinda. Hopefully I don't come across as too cranky in my comment at the poll because I would genuinely welcome her input and wish she had been here at this discussion!

I do think there is an obsession with the veil in the west and that publishers use that to their advantage. Without having read the specific books in question I can't say whether I think they play too deeply into that orientalist vein (that I think Amy was pointing to). That said I think there is value in reading and discussing such books, especially when we have a diverse membership with all sorts of backgrounds and experiences with Islam.

Also, the topic is gender, not Islam, sooo...I am also a little rankled that we fell into that trap with Islam/feminism. :/


message 31: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments You didn't come across as cranky, Marieke, don't worry. :) It would have been good to bring it up here, perhaps Amy just wasn't aware of where to post her thoughts. I think you pointed that out very gently. :)

It'll be an interesting question to ponder once a book has been selected, I'm sure it'll come up again in the ensuing discussion. I'm must admit that I'm a bit ignorant in that regard so it'll be great having an open discussion about gender and identity in North Africa.


message 32: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
so sorry guys that i have fallen behind. trying to pull it together now...


message 33: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
We had a tie for the non-fiction selection...even though it's July, is anyone interested in discussing nonfiction? should i post a tie-breaker poll? i would do it across three books, i think, since the tie for first had 5 votes apiece, and the runner-up had 4. so it's really close.


message 34: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments I really like reading non-fiction


message 35: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Me too!

Soooo....run-off poll?


message 36: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 543 comments Marieke wrote: "Me too!

Soooo....run-off poll?"


I poll will work for me.
I know I have been MIA but projects have settled down so getting back into the groove of more reading.


message 37: by Jamila (new)

Jamila | 14 comments Run off poll! But wouldn't it just end up being basically the same result if all three are there?


message 38: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Hopefully more will join... But maybe I should just do the two that tied. I didn't really think of that Jamila. :)


message 39: by Lucinda (last edited Jul 07, 2014 04:58PM) (new)

Lucinda | 39 comments oh yes, run off poll - I forgot to place a vote the first time around... and after that whole kerfuffle with the question of western bias - which is still something I hope we get around to discussing - I guess I got sidetracked
lol


message 40: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Haha...I will set up the poll tomorrow...


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