Friday, April 2, 2010

Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks

Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks has the cover page strikingly similar to the last book that I read ‘Prisoner of Tehran’. But the reason I picked up this book was because it promised a glimpse into “the Hidden World of Islamic Women”.

It is an interesting non-fiction account of the author’s interactions with women from several Muslim countries – their lives, the rituals, rules, regulations.

Geraldine Brooks treads the middle path of questioning the things passed on as religion while rationalizing some of the regressive aspects of the Muslim countries.

It was interesting to note what Geraldine’s colleague Asya had to say in justifying the role of burqa - ‘burqa-clad women are treated as equals based on their intellect not as sex objects.’

The book discusses the origin of a lot of practices like child marriage, polygamy, role of women, etc and their relevance in today’s society.

Frankly a general non-Muslim understands this culture only so much, but surely to world’s second largest population it must make sense. Even the most popular books that have come out on Muslim countries, have done little to create a good picture, say Not without my daughter, for example.

Geraldine attempts to strike a balance between criticizing the customs that stifles an individual’s (read woman’s) rights, and yet not being too judgmental about Muslim women who are comfortable in the safety of their ‘hijab’.

Personally, I learnt a lot about women in Muslim countries and I think this book will appeal to everyone who has interests in studies related to culture, religion and women. There are horrifying rituals, unbelievable stories, unjustifiable customs accepted and followed the world over. I think the book surely does some justice to the genre. In fact there are stories of several courageous women who overcame the limitations of hijab and participated in sports, politics, education and public affairs, which will appeal to the readers.

I also came across this interesting write up which is ‘a Muslim response to the book’.


  1. hmmmm u have been reading too many books based out of Taliban!!! I have read 2 and somehow the gloomy picture doesn't encourage me to pick more!!! It is depressing at times!!

    U have read Not without my Daughter? I think I have asked this pehle bhi!

  2. No, not Taliban....but Iran! And yes, it is depressing. To tell you frankly, I even dreamt 2 days in a row on finding myself in the middle of some such country. It was depressing, dreadful and gloomy! But I still picked up "In the name of Honour" by Mukhtar Mai. After I finish that I would read something different.

    I have read 'Not without my Daughter'. I found it OK. It was not too great.

  3. Books on Islam guarantee generating a lot of controversy these days, especially after 9/11 and 26/11. Australian-born Geraldine Brooks spent six years as a journalist in the Middle East. She's also the wife of Tony Horwitz, who wrote "Confederates in the Attic" and "Baghdad Without a Map." Brooks brings a Western point of view to her subject. Brooks tries to identify areas of repression that she sees as cultural rather than religious. A book like this will hopefully lead to some better understanding of this complex subject. Could grab this book at: a1books

  4. Yes, I do am curious about this subject and will surely check out the books on a1books, but quite alot of books are a little expensive in comparison with other sites. What I appreciate more about a1books is availability of unavailable books!