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Summary

'All the men I did get to know, every single one of them, has filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face. But because I am a woman, I have never had the courage to lift my hand. And because I am a prostitute, I hid my fear under layers of make-up.'

So begins Firdaus' story, leading to her grimy Cairo prison cell, where she welcomes her death sentence as a relief from her pain and suffering. Born to a peasant family in the Egyptian countryside, Firdaus suffered a childhood of cruelty and neglect. Her passion for education was ignored by her family, and on leaving school she was forced to marry a much older man.

Following her escapes from violent relationships, she finally met Sharifa, who told her that 'a man does not know a woman's value; the higher you price yourself, the more he will realise what you are really worth' and led her into a life of prostitution. Desperate and alone, she took drastic action.

Saadawi's searing indictment of society's brutal treatment of women continues to resonate today. This classic audiobook has been an inspiration to countless people across the world.

©1975 Nawal el Saadawi (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Woman at Point Zero

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Off putting Narration

Having just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns, I remembered this book, which I studied at school. It had similar themes I wanted to continue so purchased. Laura Hanna’s narration is unfortunately really off-putting. She does a good job of Firdaus, and can obviously act. So her decision (I guess?) to voice every other / male character in a monotone, unconvincing “deep” voice is bizarre to me. It makes really serious work suddenly feel like comedy, and misses the mark when she could convey something more insightful to Saadawi’s words by simply using more than one tone...

Perhaps I was spoiled by a particularly good narration of a Thousand Splendid Suns.... but I was thankful to remember that at least this is a short book.

2 people found this helpful

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absolutely gripping loved it beautifully written

I loved it every second of listening I was in hospital after a procedure it was just the best thing to pass the day an inspiration and incites pride in the courage of Fordoose Nowal keeps you in the story all the time no time to get bored or distracted thank you Nowal I know you ve left thos earthly world but you l never be dead as your books will live on lovingly

mags bracken 24 march 2021


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  • Kelly
  • 29-07-20

a difficult read

Updated review, 2020 reread: It often surprises me how differently my reaction is to a book when I read it again. Two years ago I found this one too depressing and was glad to leave it behind. But this time I got so much more from it.

It is a short book. Biographical fiction or creative non-fiction? Not really sure how to classify it, but it is powerful either way. Published in 1975, the author had lost her jobs as Director of Health Education and as Editor-in-Chief of Health magazine after she published Women and Sex. She learned the story of Firdaus, an Egyptian woman accused of murder and given the death sentence. She chooses to go to Qanatir Prison and interview Firdaus.

The story is told in first person by Firdaus. It is an insightful and brutal story of women. The subjugation of women. The patriarchal society that prevents freedom for women, and the way one woman finds strength despite all that is holding her down. Although the story is still very dark and depressing, this time I also found hope on its pages. I found the empowerment that Firdaus found in spite of her mistreatment and hardships. This time, I give the book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (compared to only 2 stars on the previous read.)


Original review, 2018:I can see why people love this book, but for me there was nothing about it that I could enjoy. It is so dark and depressing. It is probably really good for its niche. It is meant to be dark and depressing. It is meant to be feminist. It succeeds. But for me it just left me with a pit in my stomach and the desire to forget it as soon as possible. ⭐️⭐️

2 people found this helpful

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  • amwing
  • 16-04-20

A solemn story, but a great one.

Fantastic book, sad at times but that is the reality of the world. Definitely an eye opener. I suggest as many men read this as possible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susan at Truly Novel Reviews
  • 15-03-19

Very Powerful

I picked up this book as a part of my worldbuilding research and as an input to my post last week: Politics, Power, and Women Protagonists. I blew through it. There is so much to say about it that I struggle with where to begin, but my very first response was a resounding WOW!

Summary
The story is one woman’s story. She is a woman condemned to death in and by a culture that (in my opinion) is very difficult for someone raised in the United States to understand or fathom. She has murdered someone and is unashamed of that fact. She tells her story passionately and with conviction and with no regrets, and the entirety of the story is an exploration of the power struggles between genders. Firdaus found her power and in turn, she was feared. This is a feminist piece, but it is also a cultural piece and a very human piece.

Some quotes I found particularly encompassing:
“That love of a ruler and love of Allah were one and indivisible.”

“Each time I picked up a newspaper and found the picture of a man who was one of them, I would spit on it. I knew I was only spitting on a piece of paper which I needed for covering the kitchen shelves. Nevertheless I spat, and then left the spit where it was to dry.”

“They do not fear my knife. It is my truth which frightens them.”

On my blog, I further analyze some cultural aspects, feminism aspects, and the worldbuilding. You can check that out here:
https://susanstradiotto.com/2019/03/02/book-review-woman-at-point-zero/

When all is said and done, I gave this a 4.5 star rating, because there is one aspect that I had to school myself to believe within the story. Out of all the men she encountered, it is hard for me to fathom that there was not a single one with whom we could believe there was any goodness in the gender. That alone felt a bit unreal. In stories, I also look for a ray of hope within the darkness, something that shows the opportunity for change. So, while this is a powerful in almost every way, I have trouble with the thought that all men represent the antagonist.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-07-18

Poetic, Tragic, Provacative

This book definitely made me cry. It is written like an epic poem, and yet, so simply, is the story of a woman - of all women in some way. The narrator of this audio book is not my favorite, since she can only perform 2 voices in a story with many characters. But the story itself makes it worthwhile to endure. 5/5 would recommend

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  • Kevin McKiernan
  • 08-06-18

Personal & Universal.

Gripping story of a brave woman's struggle to connect with dignity, love and peace. We are all Fardooz.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hedi
  • 16-02-18

Interesting

It’s very very interesting story it will make you think about many things
Very easy english
I enjoy it !

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chassidy
  • 19-08-17

Not exactly what I expected...

Would you listen to another book narrated by Laura Hanna?

No, I did not enjoy her performance.

Was Woman at Point Zero worth the listening time?

It took me a very long time to finish because I did not enjoy it that much.

Any additional comments?

I had wanted to read this story for several years now, but in the end it was not exactly what I had expected. The last two chapters were the best part of the book in my opinion. Perhaps I would've had a better experience with this book in the Kindle format.

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  • Amir zreik
  • 18-06-21

Must listen to this audiobook

Nawal el saadawi a true legend and this book is simply and painfully explain the struggle women go through in the Middle East RIP

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  • PamL
  • 16-06-21

Beautiful yet tragic

This was one of my favorite stories this year. It left me speechless but my mind firing off in a hundred directions with empathy, compassion, respect and heartbreak for what this women and countless others have endured. The hypocrisy, the lies we are told, we tell to others and to ourselves, and realizing our worth and being fearless, embracing the principles of truth.
Very well written. Beautifully narrated. Loved it~

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  • Gary F. Sargent
  • 26-05-21

Must Read

Great book I should have read it 20 years ago. Helped my cultural understanding. If you work or live in the Middle East read this book.