Review: Nawal El Saadawi’s “The Circling Song”

by writereaderly

nawal el sadaawi the circling songEl Saadawi prefaces this “novel” (read: novella) by explaining about a particular child’s game which involves singing and dancing in a circle, holding hands with other children, losing sight of beginnings and endings and who is whom. I would have done well to remember that as I read her little piece, which swirls between the twins Hamida (girl) and Hamido (boy), who live and die and kill and are beaten and raped and genitally mutilated and what exactly is happening to whom has little to do with what I knew the previous paragraph and even less bearing on the following one. That is, I think I need to reread this one day as poetry, because it is remarkably fluid, and quite powerful emotionally in terms of the horrors visited on the preadolescent twins in (we are given to understand) daily Egyptian life in the early 1970s. I would recommend it for cultural insight and its emotive power.

Where it came from: UPB
Time and manner of reading:
Generally bewildered, bookended bed reads
Where it went: Home
Best line of the book:
Reminds me of/that: You shouldn’t rush reading poetry
Who I’d recommend it to:
Cultural explorers
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Stella Miles Franklin by Jill Roe; Life on Earth by David Attenborough