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Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of…

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women (1995)

by Geraldine Brooks

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1,911435,353 (3.96)166
Recently added bymsoul13, slhvizdos, LehmannFamilyLibrary, private library, BAICA, OLibrary, cdowney086, rsk97, Vasquez
  1. 00
    Mystic Iran the unseen world by Aryana Farshad (CtrSacredSciences)
    CtrSacredSciences: What happens when you are a journalist or filmmaker and set out on a project in the muslim world. What if you're a women journalist or filmmaker? Likely your original project is thwarted, and yet, perhaps something better, more interesting, and unique will come of it all.… (more)
  2. 00
    In the Land of Invisible Women by Qanta Ahmed (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: Both books are well written and describe how women cope under Islamic law. Some of the details are surprising. The difference between the 2 authors is that Qanta Ahmed is a western-educated muslim trained as a physician. I think she has a somewhat more intimate perspective on the women she meets compared to Geraldine Brooks. However, both books are very good.… (more)
  3. 00
    Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz (amyblue)
    amyblue: Much more serious than Baghdad without a Map but tells of the same regions from a woman's perspective. Geraldine Brooks is married to Tony Horwitz and I think they both chronicled the same journey in these two books.

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» See also 166 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
A very interesting book.
As a whole I liked it, it was nicely written. I found the jumping from one country to another, from one occasion to another at times confusing, but the main reason I read this book (information about women and their role(s) in Islamic societies, I got that already :-) ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Aug 25, 2018 |
Advance Reading Copy - Not for sale
  Alhickey1 | Sep 19, 2017 |
Fascinating stories of life in repressive theocracies. ( )
  Pat_Gibson | May 28, 2017 |
This is an excellent, thought-provoking book. Written before 9/11/01, it is a documentation of the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism that has since been such a concern, but primarily an examination of the place of women in Islamic culture - a somewhat paradoxical and often complex place.

I learned a great deal from this book, about Islam, the Middle East and its history, and the state of women in that part of the world. I have often said that I think of Islam as "younger" religion that is about where Christianity was in the Middle Ages. Certainly, Christianity could be accused of many of the injustices against women that are documented in this book as well as the intolerance of other faiths, but I like to think most Christians have progressed past some of that. It is easy for Westerners to say that Muslim culture is backward and flawed, but I think it's dangerous to think we are very much better; Islam has some appealing characteristics and some progressive followers.

Each section in this book addresses a different aspect of women's lives, from marriage and family to education, work, the arts, and sports. Brooks tells the stories of women from countries throughout the Middle East and also Africa and Asia. I enjoyed "meeting" the various women in this book and seeing the variety in their experiences of Islam.

I also learned more about the controversial (at least in my part of the world) faith of Islam. There are many parallels between Islam and Christianity, including both having a charismatic founder and each having both a sacred "source" text and supplemental interpretive texts (the Koran and hadith for Islam, the Gospels and Paul for Christianity). Some of the differences that I find pivotal are the fact that Muhammad was a warrior while Jesus was decidedly not, and that Muhammad left a record of his behavior as a husband and father while we have no such record related to Jesus (though I have often wished we Christians did have his example to follow in those areas).

This book increased my already high regard for Geraldine Brooks, who is a wonderful writer and inquisitive and daring reporter. While it is clear that she doesn't agree with all of the practice of Islam, she generally maintains an objectivity about her subject and manages to find the beauty and positive features of her subject as well.

I highly recommend this book! ( )
  glade1 | May 3, 2017 |
I picked up this book before ever having heard of Geraldine Brooks and her Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel "March." It was the subject, not the author, that drew me to "Nine Parts of Desire;" as a world literature teacher, I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of "the hidden world of Islamic women" to enrich our classroom discussions of Scheherazade and Arabian Nights.

Knowing nothing about Geraldine Brooks' reputation, I was initially very skeptical of the text. A Jewish, Australian writer traveling to Saudi Arabia and writing about a foreign culture seemed a little too much like armchair anthropology. An outside gaze is far more likely to misinterpret and misrepresent a culture than someone from the inside. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Brooks' text. Although Brooks' understanding has natural limitations as she speaks about an entire religious culture based on a few years in one part of the world, the book parses out the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran from the cultural interpretations of and additions to Islamic teachings. Brooks weaves anecdotes (and, I suspect, some guesswork) with historical fact to illustrate how empowering to women Muslim culture truly can be--and how repressive it can be, as well, in the wrong hands.

What I like most about this book is that, in spite of its shocking and stereotypic cover, it does its best to help readers get a thorough and insightful look into Islamic culture. The chapter titles are intriguing and helpful: "Jihad is for women, too," "The Holy Veil," "Politics, With and Without a Vote," etc. The glossary in the back defines several pages worth of Arabic words referenced throughout the text, often providing both literal and figurative meaning, as well as context. The bibliography is extensive and points the reader to several texts written by Muslims, along with a few primary sources (i.e. letters). It even contains an index which allow the reader to quickly look up not only important people but also key topics like polygamy, women's education, government (including female leaders), divorce, and male/female employment, which are further subcategorized, often by country for easy comparison. Finally, the page I used the most was the reference map of the middle east in the front of the text. These features make the text easily accessible to its primary audience: Westerns wanting to gain a more detailed understanding of an often-stereotyped culture and religion. ( )
  akerner1 | Mar 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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To Gloria, who convinced her daughters
that they could do anything.
And to Tony, of course.
First words
The hotel receptionist held my reservation card in his hand.
As the bus full of women inched and squealed its slow way through Tehran traffic toward Khomeini's home, I was the only one on board who wasn't weeping.
Could Rana Kabbani not have taken the trouble to reflect that one in five Muslim girls lives in a community where some form of clitoridectomy is sanctioned and religiously justified by local Islamic leaders? Or to note the chapters on "Women and Circumcision" appearing in many new editions of Islamic texts, especially in Egypt?
And the men whose wives she was helping didn't always like the effect of her help. A rug-weaving project on a wind-swept hilltop named Jebel Bani Hamida had been a roaring success because the women could do the work at home on simple, traditional looms made of sticks and stones. The queen had helped with design and organization, then bought the rugs as gifts for Jordan's official visitors. She also visited the women, squatting beside them in the dust and listening to their problems. The money for the rugs went straight to the women, giving them a measure of independence for the first time in their lives. One of them used the money from her first rug to pay for bus fare to the city to file for a divorce.
Downstairs, in the formal sitting room, I'd been keeping my eye on a side table full of silver-framed pictures of world leaders. Since the start of the Gulf crisis, the pictures had been in constant motion. Saddam Hussein had slipped from the front row after his invasion of Kuwait. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak had disappeared altogether, while George Bush had been pushed behind a lamp. That night George Bush had reemerged, positioned cheek by jowl with Saddam, as if to send the message that Jordan was, after all, a neutral party in the conflict. In front was a picture I'd never seen before: Pope John Paul II, who had just called for an immediate end to the war.
When I first visited Gaza in 1987, girls, unveiled and wearing blue jeans, had been in the streets alongside the youths, throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. Mothers had been right behind them, ready with wet cloths or cut onions to counter the effects of tear gas. Women had gained stature from their role in such protests. Now, thanks to Hamas, women had been sent back home, to manufacture male babies and avoid waste in household expenditures.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385475772, Paperback)

Geraldine Brooks spent two years as a Middle East news correspondent, covering the death of Khomeini and the like. She also learned a lot about what it's like for Islamic women today. Brooks' book is exceedingly well-done--she knows her Islamic lore and traces the origins of today's practices back to Mohammed's time. Personable and very readable, Brooks takes us through the women's back door entrance of the Middle East for an unusual and provocative view.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:38 -0400)

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Examines the life of Muslim women, and the often contradictory political, religious, and cultural forces that shape their lives.

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