The term hurma, used to apply to a woman, can apparently be interpreted in a number of different ways. By the book’s own definition, it refers to ‘an entity to be protected from violation and dishonour, usually by a male guardian’. But there are derogatory connotations, too: an Iraqi friend-of-a-friend immediately knew this would be “dirty”, associating the word with a woman of, shall we say, “looser” morals.
This short, explosive novel tries to do away with both perspectives. A damning insight into a world of near-unfettered patriarchal control and astonishing religious hypocrisy, it seems to ask why a woman isn’t allowed to be just that – a woman. The story of a girl growing up in Sana’a, increasingly consumed by sexual frustration, it was almost hard to believe. But even if only partly an accurate reflection of reality, this is incendiary stuff.
Translated by T. M. Aplin.
Set in Sana’a, Yemen.
Recommended by @lewisalloyd.