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  • Hardcover
  • 339 pages
  • A Woman Is No Man
  • Etaf Rum
  • English
  • 10 July 2015
  • 9780062699763

10 thoughts on “A Woman Is No Man

  1. says:

    This book like a gun blast to my chest ripped my emotions and scatter them all over the placesThis book made me sooo angry this book made me cry this book made me curse hate the characters made me feel sorry for the unfairness ineuality ignorance There was not any exaggeration there are too many women in the world suffering the rules from patriarchal culture customs illogical traditions made them feel vulnerable worthless and weak They never know how important their lives how to define themselves and mostly how to stand up for their rights No matter what is culture religion country race most important thing in the life is not to lose your humanity inside As you read the book the leading male characters are all losing their humanity and choosing abuse as an excuse of their traditions This book is slap on your face and harsh wake up call to change the point of views about strength of women and their capabilities Four women’s story of different generations rocked my world I loved them I got angry of them I felt sorry for them But mostly I respected them This book is not an easy read some parts deeply froze my bloodshocked me that I wanted to throw my kindle against the wall But every word you read and everything that make you feel are so worth it That’s so far best thing I read in this yearbloginstagramfacebooktwitter


  2. says:

    I'd like to thank everyone who's taken the time to read Regardless of whether you loved the book or hated it thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts here


  3. says:

    I was born without a voice one cold overcast day in Brooklyn New York No one ever spoke of my condition I did not know I was mute until years later when I’d opened my mouth to ask for what I wanted and realized no one could hear me Deya Ra’Ad a Brooklyn teenager had been raised by people who guarded old world beliefs and customs It was expected of her that she would agree to marry one of the Muslim suitors who passed her family’s muster and begin producing babies as soon as possible and as for having a separate career a separate identity well not so much It could have been worse She could have had her mother’s lifeThis is a tale of three generations of women told primarily in two time periods Isra Hadid was born and raised in Palestine We follow her story from 1990 when she was 17 She dreamed of finding someone to share her life with someone to love Isra cleared her throat “But Mama what about love?”Mama glared at her through the steam “What about it?”“I’ve always wanted to fall in love”“Fall in love? What are you saying? Did I raise a sharmouta?” slut“Nono” Isra hesitated “But what if the suitor and I don’t love each other?”“Love each other? What does love have to do with marriage? You think your father and I love each other?”Isra’s eyes shifted to the ground “I thought you must a little”Mama sighed “Soon you’ll learn that there’s no room for love in a woman’s life There’s only one thing you’ll need and that’s patience” Isra looooooved reading A Thousand and One Nights a book that holds special meaning for her The book would come to her aid in years to come Isra was married off as a teen and moved with her new husband Adam from her home in Palestine to Brooklyn No land of milk and honey for her She was barely allowed out of the family’s house Had no friends Did not speak the language Husband worked mad hours for his father Mother in law was of a prison warden than a support Isra was expected to produce babies preferably boys And pregnancy happened soon and freuently But sorry girls only which was considered a source of shame So was allowing her face to be seen by anyone after her disappointed worked nearly to death increasingly alcoholic husband beat the crap out of her for no good reason The shame was on her for she must have done something to have earned the assault the shame of a culture in which dirty laundry was washed clean of indicating marks and only the victim was hung out to dry Keeping up with the Khans was of paramount importance in reputation if not necessarily in material wealth in perceived propriety and of course in the production of male heirs Isra struggles with feeling affection for her daughters as each new daughter becomes a reason for her husband to hate her even As if post partum depression were not enough of a challenge to cope with post partum shaming and assault is added to the mix Already a uiet young woman Isra becomes even withdrawn as she is subjected to relentless criticism denigration soul crushing loneliness and even physical abuse She is largely left to her own devices is hampered even by a hostile mother in law and finds no support system in other Islamic women in Brooklyn Of course being kept on a cultural religious leash which was basically strapped to the household kitchen and nursery made it all but impossible for her to even have a chance to make social connections Have a nice dayEtaf Rum from her siteWe follow Deya Ra’Ad from 2008 when she is eighteen and under pressure from her grandparents to choose a husband Her journey is two pronged We accompany her as she does battle with her family wanting to have her own choices They may come from a Palestinian background but Deya was born in Bay Ridge Brooklyn New York USA New World and is not ok with feeling forced into a set of rules that not only is alien to this place but which she finds personally indefensible We also tag along as she tries to peel back carefully guarded family secrets She and her siblings have been raised by her father’s parents since she was eight her parents having been killed in an auto accident an event that has always been clouded in mystery She does not remember any warmth between her parents even remembers some of the abuse her mother had endured We want to learn about the circumstances of Isra and Adam’s passing and so does Deya Finally Fareeda Ra’Ad Adam’s mother Isra’s mother in law Deya’s grandmother comes in for a look Not nearly so much as Deya and Isra but enough to get a sense of what her life was like and how her experiences helped shape the person she became She is pretty much a gorgon to Isra but we get to see a bit of how she became so awful getting some sense of why she clings so doggedly to beliefs and customs that are hardly in her own interest One day a mysterious woman leaves a message for Deya on the steps of her grandparents’ house which raises even uestions Might her mother still be alive? Pursuing this lead she begins to get answers to many of her uestions But even with new knowledge Deya is still faced with difficult choices and still has to cope with some difficult peopleThe stories of Deya and Isra in particular are compelling We can probably relate to Deya who is straddling two worlds with a firmer foot in the new than her mother ever had being able to act on the uestions and concerns she shared with her mother But Isra’s story is gripping as well We keep hoping for her to find a way to make things better boost our hopes for her when chance opportunities present for her to alleviate her suffering her isolation One element that permeates the novel is the notion of reading or books as sources not only of learning but of comfort company hopefulness and inspiration Isra’s love for Arabian Nights is palpable and an affection she passed on to her daughter It is an interest that is revived in Brooklyn when a relation notices Isra’s affection for reading and begins providing her with books Isra carves out precious personal time in which to read a necessary salve in a wounded life “A Thousand and One Nights?” Sarah paused to think “Isn’t that the story of a king who vows to marry and kill a different woman every night because his wife cheats on him”“Yes” Isra said excited that Sarah had read it “Then he’s tricked by Scheherazade who tells him a new story for a thousand and one nights until he eventually spares her life I must have read it a million times”“Really?” Sara said “It isn’t that good”“But it is I love the storytelling the way so many tales unfold at once the idea of a woman telling stories for her life It’s beautiful”Sarah shrugged “I’m not a big fan of make believe stories”Isra’s eyes sprung wide “It’s not make believe”“It’s about genies and viziers which don’t exist I prefer stories about real life”“But it is about real life” Isra said ”It’s about the strength and resilience of women No one asks Scheherazade to marry the king She volunteers on behalf of all women to save the daughters of Muslims everywhere For a thousand and one nights Scherehazade’s stories were resistance Her voice was a weapon—a reminder of the extraordinary power of stories and even the strength of a single woman” Isra Daya and Fareeda’s stories are the means by which Etaf Rum fills us in on a largely overlooked aspect of contemporary life There are Palestinian immigrant and American born women who have been and who continue to be subjected to outrageous treatment by their communities by their families by their spouses solely because of their gender She points out the culture of self blaming and social shaming that aids and abets the brutalization and virtual enslavement of many such women I do not know if Rum intended her book to reflect on the wider Arabic culture or on practices in Islamic cultures in diverse nations so will presume for the moment that her focus is intended specifically for Palestinian women A Woman is Not a Man is not just a riveting story of the trials of immigration but a powerful look at the continuation of a culture of socio economic sexual dimorphism that treats males as rightful beings and females as second class citizens at best breeding stock or slaves at worst The book put me in mind of several other notable works Exit West is another recent novel that looks at the stark differences in Middle Eastern versus Western cultures through the experiences of an immigrant couple A Thousand Splendid Suns shows the oppression of women in Afghanistan under an extremist religious regime Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows considers East West strains in a London Punjabi community 2018’s Educated shows a domestic form of oppression of women foisted by an extreme form of Mormonism What Rum has provided with A Woman is No Man is a look at a particular set of women who have been suffering for centuries without the benefit of much public awareness “Silence is the only option for Palestinian women suffering domestic violence even here in America and I hope to give voice to these women in mynovel” Etaf Rum One thing that I particularly appreciated was that Rum put the men’s brutality into some context not treating it as some immutable male characteristic or excusing it but pointing out that it had an origin in the wider world and showing how women could come to accept the unacceptable The wounds of her childhood—poverty hunger abuse—had taught her That the traumas of the world were inseparably connected She was not surprised when her father came home and beat them mercilessly the tragedy of the Nakba The 1948 Palestinian diaspora bulging in his veins She knew that the suffering of women started in the suffering of men that the bondages of one became the bondages of the other Would the men in her life have battered her had they not been battered themselves? Still might have been a decent thing for them to have exercised a bit of self control maybe take their rage out by shooting at bottles or something It did her no good for Isra to leave Palestine only to be caged up in Bay Ridge With our national proclamation of secular authority and religious tolerance and even with the anti Islamic sentiment that set in after 911 the USA should still be an excellent place for Islamic people to be able to practice their faith free of the oppression that afflicts so many Eastern nations in which one branch of Islam outlaws the practices of other sorts But if Islamic people who come to or are born in the USA are not allowed to participate as Americans but only as foreigners living on American soil where is the gain for them or the nation? There may not be a thousand and one tales in Etaf Rum’s impressive novel which should be an early candidate for sundry national awards recognition and will certainly be one of the best books of 2019 and we can expect that there will be unfortunate women who will suffer miserably unfair lives that no Sheherezade can spare them but one can still hope that the tales told by Etaf Rum may open at least a few eyes touch at least a few hearts offer some a feeling of community or at least a sense of not being totally alone spare at least some the dark fates depicted here and hopefully inspire others to action Patience can be a virtue but in excess it can function as a powerful link in a chain keeping the present far too attached to an unacceptable past Rum’s book is a powerful story one that impatiently calls the world’s attention to the plight of Palestinian women an oppressed minority within an oppressed minority and proclaims rather than asks “Can you hear me now?”Review posted – December 14 2018Publication March 5 2019 USA hardcover February 4 2020 Trade paperbackIn the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25% from 20000 to 15000 characters In order to accommodate the text beyond that I have moved it to the comments section directly below in comment #3


  4. says:

    THIS BOOK Holy shit To be completely honest even as a Palestinian Muslim who has spent her entire life unapologetically refusing to abide by patriarchal norms the concept of this book scared me So honest and raw but so public Muslims all POC know too well that you don’t air your dirty laundry You don’t talk about all your shit in front of outsiders Even if it comes at the expense of your community’s advancement you deny that there are any deeply rooted problems for fear of confirming stereotypes in all of their false simplicity and orientalism You deny it for fear of contributing to your community’s otherness or strengthening the claim that whiteness has in saving you and invading your lands But this book is brilliant in that it is not centered around whiteness Rather It is a painfully accurate description of the conditions too many of us know and live with— but so powerfully contextualized The story follows the lives of 3 generations of Palestinian women and captures the complexity of generational trauma and family the violence of occupation and diaspora and of course the incomprehensible strength and resilience of women It has given me so much perspective and inspiration and I will probably read it 100 timesEtaf you are incredibly talented and brave Thank you for serving the Palestinian Muslim community in this unconventional way I appreciate you and support you and you all should too


  5. says:

    This Book is No Literary Masterpiece A Woman Is No Man definitely did not come close to meeting my expectations While the subject matter is indeed worthy the oppression of women in the Arab culture and the story full of potential the voiced experiences of three generations of Palestinian women I feel I have just read something of sub par ualityFrom the first chapter I could not shed the impression that I was reading a mediocre YA novel not literary fiction This book has a distinct lack of complexity or nuance It is also incredibly repetitive Characters are always talking to themselves asking themselves lists of uestions over and over Scenes situations and conversations repeat relentlesslyRum deserves recognition for telling this story a story that was kept under wraps for generations She also does a good job of depicting the cycle of abuse of women in her culture and the need for courage and education in order to effect change But the story is told in a very simplistic after school special way The story and the characters are as flat as a pita bread straight from Fareeda's oven I don't feel I have learned anything new and that is sad considering that I'm a WASP living in Montreal5 stars for subject matter 1 star for delivery Zero stars for false advertising I'm looking at YOU Millions list wtf? All this combines for a very grumpy 2 stars from me


  6. says:

    15 starswow this just completely missed the mark huh ◘ I'm so starved for any kind of Arab representation in fiction let alone ownvoices Muslim Arab representation so I jumped at the chance to read this when the audiobook popped up on Scribd And oh boy was I disappointed ◘ This book's biggest weakness is without a doubt its lack of nuance I don't want to be the person that's like oh the oppression you represented in your book isn't complicated enough I'm sure women did and still do experience the kind of marginalization Rum depicts in this book domestic abuse a lack of choices physical confinement etc And I also know the amount of pressure that gets put on works by authors of colour to be representative of their entire ethnicracial groups I don't want to hold Rum responsible for somehow failing to encapsulate the entirety of the Arab experience; no one book can do that But all that being said I still think her book severely lacked nuance—in its representation of all its characters in its messages in everything really◘ More than nuance I think this novel suffers from being EXTREMELY repetitive By the time you get to the halfway point of the narrative it feels like you're just reading the same scenes over and over again Isra makes tea for her mother in law her mother in law is disappointed that she's given birth to a girl Deya's grandmother tells her she should consider her marriage options Deya says she doesn't want to Isra loves to read ad infinitum When you're reading the same scenes represented in the same simplistic on the nose ways again and again and again the reading experience starts to drag uickly ◘ All of this is not to say that I'm not happy that this book was written; I'm all for stories about Arab experiences especially ownvoices ones I definitely wish there were but I'm glad that Arab authors are getting the chance to get books published I didn't much like this novel in particular but here's hoping that other good ones are written


  7. says:

    The plot isn't creative and the writing dexterity is limited but it gives voice to a largely voiceless population Arab women so rarely show up in literature that hearing a story any story from their perspective feels fresh and exciting even when the general premise is tiredI can appreciate too that this isn't just about Arab women it also seems to be written directly for them One of the leads is forced to sneak around to read books because it isn't culturally appropriate She laments that in all her reading none of the characters resemble her or relate to her experienceRum seeks to fix that problem with a story fully devoted to the female Arab experience She also has an abundantly clear goal to inspire readers to break the bonds of tradition and become independent Much of the book can be summed up as Daughter you must be married But Mama I want to go to collegeLest there be any confusion about which path is right the complacent daughters live miserable lives while everything is peachy keen for the girls who rebel and become Americanized In the end there's room for both paths but I did wish the author depicted positive aspects of Arab culture At times it comes across preachy if not personally bitter against traditionThe preachiness may be a style decision however Much of the dialogue sounds childish with themes stated outright and points made excessively clear I think this is done intentionally for the sake of Arab American girls whose first language may not be English The novel is extremely accessible and meant to be that way That's not a bad thing Maybe the style will turn off some people like me but I think it's a smart decision overall given her goalsDefinitely happy with my reading experience even if it ended up being surface level than desired


  8. says:

    A look inside an embedded patriarchal culture Isra loves to read books show her a wider world than the insular one where she lives Custom however dictates that women cannot continue with their schooling but must marry instead When a Palestinian family one who now make their home in New York travel back to Palestine to find a bride for their eldest son Isra finds herself married She wants to fall in love to be loved and to have freedom She is hoping in America to find a threeA culture where a man is allowed to do anything where a woman is just a possession everything she has or does is at the mercy of a man The worst thing a woman can do is bring shame on her familyIsra is someone whose hopes and fears tug at the heartstrings Wanting she must settle for less Her eldest daughter will take on the challenge of being allowed to make ones own decisions So the story alternates between the two with an occasional chapter narrated by Fareeda Isras mother in law We learn all three of their storiesIsra's plight drew me in her daughters made me hopeful I finished this looked around at my pile of books and thought how luck i was that no one stopped me from reading So lucky This was at times a very emotionally draining story but I think a necessary one A look inside what is for many a life of darkness This let's a little light in by making us aware of what goes on inside some of these closed culturesARC by Harper Collins


  9. says:

    Sometimes you read a book and you have no idea where to start because your emotions are all over the place? Am I right? But I also want to write my review now because my emotions are fresh and this book was an emotional ride from start to finish ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Told in two past timelines with different narrators we mostly hear from eighteen year old Deya and her mother Isra We also occasionally hear from Fareeda Deya’s grandmother and Isra’s mother in law The family is Palestinian and the story begins with Isra living in Palestine and succumbing to an arranged marriage with a Palestinian American Adam I say “succumbing” because she did not want to get married and leave her family thousands of miles behindIsra also shares that she did not grow up in the most loving of homes including insights into a daughter’s uniue role in the family getting the tea and coffee just right not being educated and keeping uiet about the physical abuse that occurs Deya also does not want to get married and Fareeda is working hard to arrange her match Deya Dreams of college and loves to read She travels many of the same roads as her mother being seen as a burden because she is a girl not placing a value on her education her voice not being heard reuiring constant supervision There’s also a mystery within this story Deya has been told her parents died in a car accident but she learns that is not the case So what happened to them? There is a web of secrets Deya never could have imagined I savored A Woman Is No Man I read it slowly and reflected throughout The writing is beautiful but precise and completely engaging and it begs thoughtfulness In my own family I received mixed messages about the roles of women but mostly my biggest takeaways were that I was to be educated and fierce I can’t imagine what it would be like to be taught the exact opposite messages repeatedly day in and out with total silence about reality being the norm Overall A Woman Is No Man is a thoughtful honest powerful portrayal of a family its cultural values and its inner workings Sometimes we remember the experiences we have while reading a book The thoughts self reflections I can tell you this story will never leave meThis important article written by the author is not to be missed received a complimentary copy All opinions are my own My reviews can also be found on my blog wwwjennifertarheelreadercom


  10. says:

    wow this book holds so many significant messages the importance of educating oneself how to find your voice leaning that self acceptance is the only necessary acceptance and what it means to be a woman but most importantly this also shows how life saving storiesbooks can be i adored the critical role reading plays in many of the characters lives as a bookworm nothing makes me happier that being said i have a couple of critiues i dont really like how men are portrayed in this every main male character is inherently cruel im not sure if this is a specific personal representation or what but with this story having a very obvious feminist tone the overwhelming negative characterisation of men kind of rubs me the wrong way and because the oppression is so blatant there is no nuance for the message i swear i read the words ‘women have no choices’ at least fifty different times its so repetitive yes the message is important but the writing started to feel like it was beating a dead horse by the end this is a debut novel so i believe these characterisation and writing skills will come in time there is a lot of promise within the pages of this book and theres no doubt it gives a voice to so many who are marginalised so i will definitely be keeping an eye out for ERs future stories ↠ 35 stars


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A Woman Is No Man This debut novel by an Arab American voicetakes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in AmericaIn Brooklyn eighteen year old Deya is starting to meet with suitors Though she doesn’t want to get married her grandparents give her no choice History is repeating itself Deya’s mother Isra also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident a secret note from a mysterious yet familiar looking woman makes Deya uestion everything she was told about her past As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra she begins to understand the dark complex secrets behind her community