Life behind the veil, in one dimension

Maud here. I’m away for a week or two, and Andy is stepping in. I’ve pre-posted some items to appear while I’m gone.

My friend Laila Lalami recently passed along her critical take on The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman. Whereas the New York Times reviewer characterizes the book as “a matter-of-fact look at the sex lives of women in Islamic societies,” Lalami critiques its representation of Moroccan culture and ritual, and its facile (if sometimes deftly erotic) representation of Muslim women’s emotional and sensual lives. Her critique is scheduled to appear at roughly the same time as this post. Here’s an excerpt:

At a time when only 3% of fiction published in the US today originally appeared in another language, and when internationally renowned authors are having trouble finding American publishers, the attention heaped on The Almond is quite rare. But it is not surprising. It’s an excellent time to be writing about the “plight of Muslim women,” about “life behind the veil,” and other assorted topics. But in their rush to hear about the sexual lives of Muslim women, few reviewers have bothered to engage the novel critically. And, of course, none are Muslim or North African, much less Moroccan.


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