• Imprint: Saqi Books
  • ISBN: 9780863564178
  • eISBN: 9780863564499
  • Published: May 2011
  • UK Price: £8.99
  • US Price: $14.95
  • Format: 129 x 198 mm (B-format)
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Extent: 256pp
  • Subject:


Nawal El Saadawi

Bodour, a distinguished literary critic, carries with her a dark secret. As a young university student, she fell in love with a political activist and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Zeina, whom she abandoned on the streets of Cairo.

Zeina grows up to become one of Egypt’s most beloved entertainers, despite being deprived of a family name and a home. Bodour in turn remains trapped in a loveless marriage, pining for her daughter and lost love. In an attempt to find solace, she writes a fictionalised account of her life, which then mysteriously gets stolen.

Set against the backdrop of revolution in Cairo, Zeina is a tale about regret, loss and the courage it takes for a mother to face up to the mistakes of her past.

About the Author

Born in 1931, Nawal El Saadawi is a renowned Egyptian writer, novelist and activist. She has published over 40 books, which have been translated into over 30 languages. They include Memoirs of a Woman Doctor, Love in the Kingdom of Oil, Two Women in One and The Fall of the Imam (all published by Saqi Books).

About the Translator

Amira Nowaira obtained her PhD in English from Birmingham University. She is former chairperson of the department of English at Alexandria University and is currently professor of English literature in the same department.


'Read this novel to grasp the bravery of El Saadawi's activism in Egypt or to learn more about her country than we saw on our TV screens this spring.' Guardian

'An uncompromising attack on patriarchy, power and hypocrisy in modern-day Egypt.' The Times

‘More than any other woman, El Saadawi has come to embody the trials of Arab feminism.’
San Francisco Chronicle

‘El Saadawi writes with directness and passion.’
The New York Times

'A poignant and brave writer.'
Marie Claire