Synopses & Reviews
Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women is the story of Brooks's intrepid journey toward an understanding of the women behind the veils, and of the often contradictory political, religious, and cultural forces that shape their lives. In fundamentalist Iran, Brooks finagles an invitation to tea with the ayatollah's widow and discovers that Mrs. Khomeini dyes her hair. In Saudi Arabia, she eludes the severe segregation of the sexes and attends a bacchanal, laying bare the hypocrisy of this austere, male-dominated society. In war-torn Ethiopia, she watches as a female gynecologist repairs women who have undergone genital mutilation justified by a distorted interpretation of Islam. In villages and capitals throughout the Middle East, she finds that a feminism of sorts has flowered under the forbidding shroud of the chador as she makes other startling discoveries that defy our stereotypes about the Muslim world. Nine Parts of Desire is much more than a captivating work of firsthand reportage; it is also an acute analysis of the world's fastest-growing religion, deftly illustrating how Islam's holiest texts have been misused to justify the repression of women. It was, after all, the Shiite leader Ali who proclaimed that "God created sexual desire in ten parts, then gave nine parts to women."
"Powerful and enlightening....Brooks presents stunning vignettes of Muslim women...and carefully distinguishes misogyny and oppressive cultural traditions from what she considers the true teaching of the Koran." Publishers Weekly
"There has been nothing finer on the subject from a Western observer...she looks at it from the heart...mixing historical perspective with piercingly observed journalism." Newsday
"Avoids both the sensational and the stereotypical...insightful...a valid, entertaining account of women in the Muslim world." The New York Times Book Review
"A rare look at a significant segment of the world's population that literally has been cloaked in mystery for generations." The Seattle Times
Includes bibliographical references (p. 245-247) and index.
About the Author
Geraldine Brooks is a native of Australia and a graduate of Sydney University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Tony Horwitz. This is her first book.