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A Woman Is No Man

de Etaf Rum

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
8524519,399 (4.07)41
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A READ WITH JENNA TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK  A GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS FINALIST FOR BEST FICTION AND BEST DEBUT * BOOKBROWE'S BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR * A MARIE CLAIRE BEST WOMEN'S FICTION OF THE YEAR * A REAL SIMPLE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR * A POPSUGAR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR ALL WRITTEN BY FEMALES A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice * A Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March * A Newsweek Best Book of the Summer * A USA Today Best Book of the Week * A Washington Book Review Difficult-To-Put-Down Novel * A Refinery 29 Best Books of the Month * A Buzzfeed News 4 Books We Couldn't Put Down Last Month * A New Arab Best Books by Arab Authors * An Electric Lit 20 Best Debuts of the First Half of 2019 * A The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019 "Garnering justified comparisons to Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns... Etaf Rum's debut novel is a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice."   --Refinery 29 In her debut novel Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community--a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect. "Where I come from, we've learned to silence ourselves. We've been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of--dangerous, the ultimate shame." Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children--four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra's oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda's insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can't help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family--knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.… (mais)
  1. 00
    Dominicana de Angie Cruz (MM_Jones)
    MM_Jones: Both are immigrant to New York stories from a different culture.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Nominated in two categories for best book in 2019 by Goodreads, there are many positive reviews of this book. There is no question that the subservient role of Palestinian women and the abuse to which they are subjected is heart-wrenching and that Rum deserves credit for shedding light on some darkness in this world. But, this book reminded me of Groundhog Day, with the same set of events occurring again and again, especially the cultural shame of giving birth to a girl versus a boy or the desire of women to become educated versus married at age 16, 17 or 18, often to a stranger or even to speak her mind. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
In 1990, teenage Isra leaves her home in Palestine to be married to Adam, who she has barely met. She moves to Brooklyn, where she is stifled by her overbearing mother in law, Fareeda, and proceeds to disappoint her by bearing daughters.

In 2008, Isra's oldest daughter Deya is being pushed by her grandmother to follow in her mother's footsteps.

This as intense, heartbreaking book. It flips through time, and between all three characters, to let the story unfold. All three women are suffocated by the weight of cultural expectation. (Rum makes clear that these expectations are not Islamic; at worst, she might be accused of an unflattering portrayal of Palestinian-American immigrants, but I don't think such an accusation would bear weight under examination.) The women, and the men they live with, are weighed down by history, dislodged by war and emigration. Without a secure sense of place in America, they cling to a set of cultural rules to separate themselves.

What that amounts to is a stifling, violent, patriarchal life, in which reputation is everything, and the value of a woman is nothing. Women are a burden; sons will bring you security. Even a trip alone to the supermarket would be a breach of protocol. Much of the novel has Fareeda and Isra, or Fareeda and Deya, trapped in the house together. Reading novels is Isra and Deya's act of rebellion, time spent away from the endless work of cooking and serving the men. Adam's sister Sarah, and Isra's sister in law Nadine, push back at what is expected of them, but Isra, trapped between her memories of her mother's own mistreatment and her perceived failure as a wife, becomes beaten down.

The women form the complex, emotional heart of the story, and Rum is interested in how they respond to how they are trapped in their cultural bonds and how they choose to respond with the small amount of agency they have. The men are peripheral. Their control exists in part because women uphold it. While there are hints of their own dilemmas, Rum isn't nearly as interested in them. She has a wonderful sense of detail in their thoughts and experiences--the characters live in an almost claustrophobically contained world, where they rarely leave the confines of their block, but the minutiae, from rolling grape leaves to serving tea, are vivid and bright. The intersecting plotlines allow the story to unfold perfectly. There isn't genuine suspense--this isn't a thriller--and the big reveal is not a sihocker, but the path from A to B is what's of interest here. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
In this new "woke" world, there's a lot of emphasis on understanding and validating the realities of other races, genders, and cultures. As illuminating as this undertaking may be, however, it's rarely comfortable, and "uncomfortable" is definitely how this book left me feeling towards the slice of Palestinian culture that A Women is No Man explores.

One instinctively wants to respect (or at least understand) the mores of other cultures, no matter how different than ours; one instinctively guards against the impulse to believe that one's own cultural mores are somehow superior to others. But, Holy Cow, I'm having a hard time - not just as a woman, but as a human - accepting that there is anything dignified, justified, or moral about a system that doesn't just strip women of their rights/pride/joy/humanity, but appears to strip *everyone* of their rights/pride/joy/humanity by the time it is done ravaging families.

As the reader will already understand from the blurb at the back of the book, this tale centers around the experiences of two families that have fairly recently emigrated from Palestine. However, this story rarely ventures beyond the kitchen doors of the houses where our protagonists dwell, as the narrative purpose of placing the tale in the U.S. seems mostly to allow the author to explore the brutal contrast between American and Palestinian concepts of family honor, gender roles, and personal freedom.

The contrast is indeed brutal, for in Rum's Palestine, daughters serve no other purpose than to marry, service their husbands, and raise sons; sons serve no other purpose than to protect their family honor, even if this means sacrificing their dreams or engaging in acts of brutality; and the apparent duty mothers/mother-in-laws is to ensure that new generations perpetuate this soul-crushing tradition, no matter what sacrifices are required.

The result of this system, Rum wishes us to see, is a system of ever-widening cycles of shame: mothers who cannot love their own children because they themselves feel unworthy of love; husbands who beat their wives because their culture considers them weak if they don’t; daughters whose only escape is through reading, even though the books they read exacerbate the shame they feel over their passive roles; sons who are so beholden “preserving family honor” that they destroy their own happiness pursuing lives they loath; mothers and mothers-in-law who dare not question the system they have sacrificed so much to preserve, lest humiliation and self-revulsion shatter them.

I realize I have yet to talk about the book itself, which I suppose I would recommend to others, though not without a warning about the bleakness of the content beforehand. Rum’s writing style stays out of the way of the story she is telling. The tale itself is a small but meandering one, told by a variety of narrators, a construct which encourages readers to view story cycles from multiple perspectives. If one experiences feelings of frustration or impatience at the choices that some of the characters here make, the fault is not Rum’s for failing to provide ample and authentic context.

One understands that immigrants fleeing to a new country might, in their desolation, cling to familiar customs and traditions– perhaps even to the point where those traditions become perverted and destructive rather than constructive. But I’m having a hard time understanding how the system described here was *ever* constructive. What purpose is served by a system that forces people to marry without love? That transforms women into creatures so brainless and quiet, they cannot possibly be satisfactory companions or helpmeets? That forces men to sacrifice their happiness in order to preserve a warped and indefensible definition of “family honor”? I’ve been working hard to police myself to accept the traditions of other cultures without judging them, but in this case I may have to make an exception. ( )
  Dorritt | May 30, 2021 |
Prepare to be disturbed by the harsh reality of a woman’s life in suppressive male-dominated cultures. Shocking, appalling, and at the same time, enlightening.

( )
  SallyElizabethMurphy | May 20, 2021 |
Ezra, a Palestinian woman who marries Adam whose family moved to the United States when he was a boy, tries to do the things that are expected of her and protect her daughters. She lives with her husband's family and keeps the traditions of Palestine alive while dealing with Fareedsa, her mother-in-law, telling her she must give her husband sons. Under so much pressure she finally breaks and decides she must save her daughters from the same fate and she makes plans to do so.

While I enjoyed this book, I was angry reading it. I was angry with Fareeda, Ezra's mother, and the culture that devalues woman and accepts the abuse by husbands and fathers. I felt anger towards Adam for not setting boundaries with his parents and spending time with his own family as well as the abuse he does to Ezra. I liked that Zara, Fareeda's only daughter, and Deaya, Ezra's oldest daughter, learn to stand up for themselves and travel different paths than their parents. I liked the strength they showed not to follow the traditions of their family and to go after what was important to them.

The story is told from three points of view--Ezra, Deaya, and Fareeda. I saw events told in their eyes and could decide which version to accept. I am glad I read this though it made me angry and sad. ( )
  Sheila1957 | May 20, 2021 |
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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A READ WITH JENNA TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK  A GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS FINALIST FOR BEST FICTION AND BEST DEBUT * BOOKBROWE'S BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR * A MARIE CLAIRE BEST WOMEN'S FICTION OF THE YEAR * A REAL SIMPLE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR * A POPSUGAR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR ALL WRITTEN BY FEMALES A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice * A Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March * A Newsweek Best Book of the Summer * A USA Today Best Book of the Week * A Washington Book Review Difficult-To-Put-Down Novel * A Refinery 29 Best Books of the Month * A Buzzfeed News 4 Books We Couldn't Put Down Last Month * A New Arab Best Books by Arab Authors * An Electric Lit 20 Best Debuts of the First Half of 2019 * A The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019 "Garnering justified comparisons to Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns... Etaf Rum's debut novel is a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice."   --Refinery 29 In her debut novel Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community--a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect. "Where I come from, we've learned to silence ourselves. We've been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of--dangerous, the ultimate shame." Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children--four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra's oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda's insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can't help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family--knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

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813.6 — Literature American and Canadian American fiction 21st Century

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