Nawal’s Path


When I came out of prison there were two routes I could have taken. I could have become one of those slaves to the ruling institution, thereby acquiring security, property, the state prize, and the title of “great writer”; I could have seen my picture in the newspapers and on television. Or I could continue on the difficult path, the one that had led me to prison.


Yet, something would move inside me suddenly, something built into me, the rebel, angry and revolting against this gravity, this submission to worry and grief. Rebelling against passivity and lack of movement, resisting defeat and pessimism, so that I would say: “We will not die, or if we are to die we won’t die silently, we won’t go off in the night without a row, we must rage and rage, we must beat the ground and make it shudder. We won’t die without a revolution!”


And so nothing can alarm me. Writing is my life. There is no power in the world that can strip my writings from me. They have been printed and published; they have thousands –perhaps millions—of readers in the Arab world and across the globe.

Since childhood a dream has inhabited my imagination: I write my words and people read them—today, tomorrow, the day after. When does not matter, for people will read them.

Those are the people who make a homeland, and my homeland has become those people.

–Nawal El Saadawi, Memoirs from the Women’s Prison (1984)



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