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Voices Revealed: Arab Women Novelists, 1898-2000

Bouthaina Shaaban
Voices Revealed: Arab Women Novelists, 1898-2000
ISBN: 978-0-89410-871-6
ISBN: 978-0-89410-896-9
2009/227 pages/LC: 2008048404
"Singlehandedly rewriting the history of modern Arabic literature, this informative book brings to light the women novelists of the Arab world in an authoritative and defiant manner."—Dena El Saffar, Multicultural Review

"Few books in any cultural tradition force us to rewrite the history of that culture. Voices Revealed is one such book.... Few scholars have the nerve, the knowledge, and the strength of conviction to demand the rewriting of history and the positioning of women's freedom and creativity at the very heart of culture and society. Bouthaina Shaaban is one such scholar. And she accomplishes the task in the most exciting, challenging, and authoritative of fashions."—Kamal abu-Deeb, University of London

"This is a great addition to the field of Arabic literature at large and Arab women’s literature in particular. Shaaban canvasses an impressive range of novels both across time and from a wide swath of the Arab region."—Khalil Barhoum, Stanford University


Spanning more than a century, this systematic study brings to the forefront a dazzling array of novels by Arab women writers.

Bouthaina Shaaban's analysis ranges from the work of Zaynab Fawwaz, published at the end of the nineteenth century, to that of Sahar Khalifah and Najwa Barakat, published at the cusp of the twenty-first. The novels discussed reflect not only specifically Arab concerns, but also those that are universally relevant to women. Perhaps most notably, Shaaban makes it abundantly clear that Arab women were pioneers in the creation of the Arab novel—though until now they have been little known—and that the development of this literary genre occurred very much in tandem with the changing role of women in Arab countries. 


Bouthania Shaaban is author of Both Right and Left Handed: Arab Women Talk About Their Lives. She has been professor of English literature at Damascus University since 1985 and also served for five years as vice president of Syria’s Arab Writer's Union. Dr. Shaaban was recently honored by Ziad Hamzeh’s film Woman, which is based on her work and life and was awarded the Golden Palm for the best film at the 2008 Beverly Hills Film Festival.


  • A Note on Transliteration.
  • The Marginalization of Women’s Writing.
  • The Beginnings.
  • The Quest for Parity.
  • The Emergence of the New Woman.
  • Women and Nation.
  • Women’s War Novels.
  • Revelations.
  • Masters of the Art.
  • Recent Novels by Arab Women.
  • Appendix: Lists of Novelists