What was your favorite book of 2006?

point-zero.jpgPoet and publisher Erik Sweet weighs in with his top read of the past year: Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman At Point Zero

“No book I read this year made more of an impact on me than Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman At Point Zero, an Egyptian novel first published in 1975. This slim volume tells the story of an Egyptian woman, who due to the oppression of the individuals around her is never given a taste of true freedom. The author, Nawal El Saadawi, a writer, feminist, and physician, based the main character Firdaus on a woman she encountered at a woman’s prison in Egypt. Though brief in length, Saadawi’s novel pulls readers deep into the evolution of Firdaus, a woman penned within the confines of a world that does not value independent women.

“At the opening of the story, we find that Firdaus is sentenced to die for killing a man in Cairo. As the story progresses, we learn about her life as child and the oppression she endured at the hands of men throughout her life. As she becomes a prostitute, and then attempts to work an office job, and then moves back to prostitution, the question of how one finds true freedom and attains dignity under adverse conditions is central to the story.

“Reading this powerful novel made me reflect on how extremely important choice and freedom are to our lives. Woman At Point Zero gives us a window into a woman’s search for truth that is severely limited by the controlling and oppressive forces around her. At the end of the novel, Firdaus says, “They do not fear my knife. It is my truth which frightens them. This fearful truth gives me great strength.” “

Erik Sweet has co-edited Tool a Magazine (www.toolamagazine.com), a magazine dedicated to poetry and literature, since 1998. He currently co-organizes the Behind the Egg reading series (with Daniel Nester), held monthly at Point 5 (383.5 Madison Avenue, Albany), which is a space run by The Capital District Federation of Ideas. Recently, some of his poems have been published in No Tell Motel and Big Bridge.


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