Distinguished literary critic Bodour is trapped in a loveless marriage and carries with her a dark secret. She fell in love in her youth and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Zeina, whom she abandoned on the streets of Cairo.
Bodour doesn’t know that Zeina has blossomed into one of Egypt’s most beloved entertainers. Pining for her estranged daughter, she writes a fictional account of her life in an attempt to find solace. But as the revolution in Cairo begins to gain fire, the novel goes missing and Bodour must find who has stolen it. Will her hunt for the thief bring mother and daughter together? Or is Bodour destined to lose her daughter to Cairo forever?
‘At a time when nobody else was talking, [El Saadawi] spoke the unspeakable.’
Margaret Atwood, BBC Imagine
‘Read this novel to grasp the bravery of El Saadawi’s activism in Egypt or to learn more about her country’
‘An uncompromising attack on patriarchy, power and hypocrisy in modern-day Egypt.’
‘Will haunt readers with its beautiful prose and harsh depiction of women’s lives in Cairo... will keep readers guessing as to what happens next, and what is real versus imagined.’ Publishers Weekly