'Against the white sand, the contours of my father's body were well defined, emphasized its existence in a world where everything was liquid, where the blue of the sea melted into the blue of the sky with nothing between. This independent existence was to become the outer world, the world of my father, of land, country, religion, language, moral codes. It was to become the world around me. A world made of male bodies in which my female body lived.'
Nawal El Saadawi has been pilloried, censored, imprisoned and exiled for her refusal to accept the oppressions imposed on women by gender and class. For her, writing and action have been inseperable and this is reflected in some of the most evocative and disturbing novels ever written about Arab women.
Born in a small Egyptian village in 1931, she eluded the grasp of suitors before whom her family displayed her when she was still ten years old and went on to qualify as a medical doctor. In 1969, she published her first work of non-fiction, Women and Sex; in 1972, she was dismissed from her profession because of her political activism. From then on there was no respite: imprisonment under Sadat in 1981 was the culmination of the long struggle she had waged for Egyptian women's social and intellectual freedom; in 1992, her name appeared on a death list issued by a fundamentalist group after which she went into exile for five years. Since then, she has devoted her time to writing novels and essays and to her activities as a worldwide speaker on women's issues.
A Daughter of Isis is the autobiography of this extraordinary woman. In it she paints a sensuously textured portrait of the childhood that produced the freedom fighter. We see how she moulded her own creative power into a weapon - how, from an early age, the use of words became an act of rebellion against injustice.