'Against the white sand, the contours of my father's body were well defined, emphasized its existence in a world where everything was liquid, where the blue of the sea melted into the blue of the sky with thing between. This independent existence was to become the outer world, the world of my father, of land, country, religion, language, moral codes. It was to become the world around me. A world made of male bodies in which my female body lived.' Nawal El Saadawi has been pilloried, censored, imprisoned and exiled for her refusal to accept the oppressions imposed on women by gender and class. For her, writing and action have been inseperable and this is reflected in some of the most evocative and disturbing vels ever written about Arab women. Born in a small Egyptian village in 1931, she eluded the grasp of suitors before whom her family displayed her when she was still ten years old and went on to qualify as a medical doctor. In 1969, she published her first work of n-fiction, Women and Sex; in 1972, she was dismissed from her profession because of her political activism. From then on there was respite: imprisonment under Sadat in 1981 was the culmination of the long struggle she had waged for Egyptian women's social and intellectual freedom; in 1992, her name appeared on a death list issued by a fundamentalist group after which she went into exile for five years. Since then, she has devoted her time to writing vels and essays and to her activities as a worldwide speaker on women's issues. A Daughter of Isis is the autobiography of this extraordinary woman. In it she paints a sensuously textured portrait of the childhood that produced the freedom fighter. We see how she moulded her own creative power into a weapon - how, from an early age, the use of words became an act of rebellion against injustice.
Egyptian novelist, doctor and militant writer on Arab women's problems and their struggle for liberation, Nawal el Saadawi was born in the village of Kafr Tahla. Refusing to accept the limitations imposed by both religious and colonial oppression on most women of rural origin, she qualified as a doctor in 1955 and rose to become Egypt's Director of Public Health. Since she began to write over 30 years ago, her books have concentrated on women. In 1972, her first work of non fiction, Women and Sex, evoked the antagonism of highly placed political and theological authorities, and the Ministry of Health was pressurised into dismissing her. Under similar pressures she lost her post as Chief Editor of a health journal and as Assistant General Secretary in the Medical Association in Egypt. From 1973 to 1976 she worked on researching women and neurosis in the Ain Shams University's Faculty of Medicine; and from 1979 to 1980 she was the United Nations Advisor for the Women's Programme in Africa (ECA) and Middle East (ECWA). Later in 1980, as a culmination of the long war she had fought for Egyptian women's social and intellectual freedom, an activity that had closed all avenues of official jobs to her, she was imprisoned under the Sadat regime. She has since founded the Arab Women's Solidarity Association and devoted her time to being a writer, journalist and worldwide speaker on women's issues. With the publication by Zed Books in 1980 of The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World, English language readers were first introduced to the work of this major writer. Zed Books has also published four of her previous novels, Woman at Point Zero (1983), God Dies by the Nile (1985), The Circling Song (1989) and Searching (1991) as well as a collection of her non-fiction writings The Nawal El Saadawi Reader (1997). She has received three literary award