Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Review: Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World by Shereen El Feki

On the jacket:


If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms.
As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home—in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region. The result is an informative, insightful, and engaging account of a highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society.
Sex is entwined in religion, tradition, politics, economics, and culture, so it is the perfect lens through which to examine the complex social landscape of the Arab world. From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, from sex work to same-sex relations, Sex and the Citadel takes a fresh look at the sexual history of the region and brings new voices to the debate over its future. 
This is no peep show or academic treatise but a highly personal and often humorous account of one woman’s journey to better understand Arab society at its most intimate and, in the process, to better understand her own origins. Rich with five years of groundbreaking research, Sex and the Citadel gives us a unique and timely understanding of everyday lives in a part of the world that is changing before our eyes.

Review:

Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World is an extensively researched book by Sherren El Feki. Egyptians, Tunisians and Moroccans view sex and sexuality dealing with sex education, prostitution, marriage etc.

Extensive and portraying in-depth information, in El Feki's unique story-telling manner. The perspective of the account is of a western-cultured Muslim woman, both as an insider and as an outsider. Common knowledge, about sex being a conservative issue in the Arab countries pertains, but this book tells us much more than what we have ever read or known. Upsetting tales of ignorance and gross inhumanity, Sex and the Citadel is a dark read peppered with the author's hope that the scene will get better with time.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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