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“Garnering justified comparisons to Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns... Etaf Rum’s debut novel is a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice.” —Refinery 29
In her debut novel Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community—a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.
"Where I come from, we’ve learned to silence ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of—dangerous, the ultimate shame.”
Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.
Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.
But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Arab-American author Etaf Rum’s debut unfolds in short, suspenseful chapters narrated by three generations of Palestinian women. Deya, a Harry Potter–loving Brooklyn teenager, faces pressure from her immigrant grandparents to abandon her academic ambitions for an arranged marriage. Frustrated by her lack of freedom and curious about her late parents’ past, Deya slowly discovers a painful legacy of domestic abuse that reaches back to the refugee camps of her family’s homeland. We were transfixed by Rum’s bold unveiling of conservative Muslim culture. Like the “taboo” novels her characters secretly turn to for escape, A Woman Is No Man successfully breaks the silence that enables oppression.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This author is truly gifted and from my home state of NC. I would recommend anyone to read this. I’m an employer at a childcare @littlemakersacademy. And I have Arabic - Muslim woman as employees and this really helped me to understand their backgrounds and put things into perspectives. Next time I work to encourage them I have a more
understanding vantage point. After reading this I’m interested in the view point of the men, especially the abusers. Overall, the best book I’ve read in a while , I couldn’t put it down.
A Woman is No Man
Read in two sittings. Lovely writing and content so compelling. Characters clearly presented to point you can see them. Heartbreaking but difficult to imagine in American culture....yet, it exists on some level.
Very well written debut novel. Culturally illuminating. Because it does discuss gender roles both men and women should read it. Some parts of the story were hard to take in because of the nature of the material. I needed to reflect on it once I finished reading the book. It is not a novel you quickly move on from because it does make you pause and think. Looking forward to Etaf Rum’s next novel.