Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Book Review: The Poison Tree – Planted and Grown in Egypt
A friend sent me the link to this yesterday. The book is legally donwloadable for free from Marwa Rakha's own website. While currently available in English, she promises that the Arabic translation too will soon be online.
The book is written in a semi disjointed "part blog-part diary-part letter" fashion and someone who is used to a structured flow when reading, may start out feeling a bit disconcerted. But if you persevere you can gain some insights into Egytian culture, sexuality, morality and society. The unifying theme of the book revolves around gender stereotypes, dating and marriage and how men and women are held to different standards in society. While this may be true across the world, it is more pronounced in Egypt.
I often wondered how so many Egyptian friends and acquaintances kept ending up divorced within barely a year or two of marriage, sometimes with new born kids who were not even a year old. Some have ended up remarrying men who had been unfaithful to them during their first attempt at marriage. This being a very sensitive and private matter, I have never felt comfortable enough to actually ask them the question directly. But Marwa's book has shed some light on at least some of the reasons, which seem to lie in Social Conditioning.
There were parts that I skipped over, but there were also parts that are really insightful.
This book is worth reading if you are interested in human behavior or are visiting Egypt and would like to know a little more about people you will encounter.
But, I would highly recommend the book to any non-Egyptian girl/woman/lady planning to get herself an Egyptian boyfriend or Egyptian husband. Most Egyptian men think and operate differently from "Western" men and its important for a female to know what she is getting herself into before she gets in too deep.
While the book may also be guilty of stereotyping men and women, there are a lot of grains of truth behind the characterisations.
The book could be classified as chick-lit, but there is a lot you can begin to understand about Egyptian society and how it operates through the eyes of a Single Independent Woman
If you would prefer to read the book as a paperback or on kindle, they are both available via Amazon.
Also published on desicritics.org