Memoirs by Women ‘Who Did Not Leave the Region Permanently’

A few days ago, I saw a tweet from @drawmedy saying, “Trying to find memoirs written by women from ME region who *did not leave the region permanently.* Suggestions? @arablit? Saadawi and…?:

downloadThere are dozens upon dozens of memoirs by Arab women that either were written in English or have been translated (or ghost-written) into English. We don’t need, here, to go into the problems that plague many of these memoirs: Lila Abou-Lughod and others have already done a much better job. Certainly relocation is not sufficient cause for suspicion, but it does sweep away a lot of the memoirs — Now They Call Me Infidel; Why I Renounced Jihad for America — that lack literary merit.

I’m not sure why @drawmedy is interested in female memoirists who haven’t permanently relocated, but it was an interesting question, so I started a list of a few suggestions. Of course, it begs the questions of “what is memoir” and “what is leave” and “what is permanent,” not to mention “what is the Middle East.” Please do add your suggestions below.

As @drawmedy mentions in her tweet, Nawal El Saadawi has three autobiographical works in English translation: A Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi, Walking through Fire: A Life of Nawal El Saadawi, and Memoirs from the Women’s Prison.











I don’t think this is translated into English, but:



  1. I mentioned this novel in another post a few weeks ago – Evelyne Accad’s roman à clef Coquelicot du massacre (Poppy from the Massacre) (L’Harmattan) is a good one.

    1. Yes, indeed, in the Lebanon list. I seem to be embarassingly list-y lately.

  2. What about Huda Shaarawi? Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist (1879-1924)

    1. Of course!

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