Introduction: Why is Nawal El Saadawi Banned?

  • Nawal El Saadawi
Part of the Giants of Contemporary Arab Literature book series (GCAL)


It was in 2002 when I first saw Dr. Nawal El Saadawi give a talk on comparative literature at a conference held at Cairo University. I was already familiar with El Saadawi’s writing through a number of novels and works of nonfiction that I had read and studied. I had always wondered why she is feared so much in some quarters, to the extent that her writing and talks are banned. On this occasion she spoke about creativity and courage, and I will never forget the sparkle in her eyes that continued throughout the talk despite the sneering and hissing of a mostly hostile and disapproving audience. I saw a simply dressed woman with the famous black and white Palestinian shawl around her neck, which in itself indicated her sympathy for the Palestinian cause and made a political statement. The first thing she said to her audience, which mainly comprised university professors and students, was: What are you doing in here? Why aren’t you outside demonstrating?


Female Character Arab World Early Teen African Literature Holy Ghost 
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  1. El Saadawi, Nawal. Memoirs from the Women’s Prison. The Women’s Press Limited, 1986.Google Scholar
  2. El Saadawi, Nawal. Awraqi … Hayati [My Papers … My Life]. Part III. Dar Al Adab, Beirut, Lebanon, 2001.Google Scholar
  3. El Saadawi, Nawal. The Novel. Trans. Omnia Amin and Rick London. Interlink Books, Nothampton, Massachusetts, USA, 2009.Google Scholar
  4. El Saadawi, Nawal. “Towards A Philosophy that Will Awaken the Conscience of the Human Race” Women and Global Change. 6th International Conference of the Arab Women Solidarity Association (AWSA), 3–5 January 2002, Cairo, Egypt, pp. 9–26.Google Scholar
  5. El Saadawi, Nawal. “Democracy, Creativity and African Literature” The Nawal El Saadawi Reader. Zed Books, London and New York, 1997, pp.188–208.Google Scholar

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© Omnia Amin 2016

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  • Nawal El Saadawi

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