The Dramatic Literature of Nawal El Saadawi
Foreword by Adele S. Newson-Horst
About the Book
Nawal El Saadawi’s most recent play, God Resigns at the Summit Meeting, created an uproar in her native Egypt. On the basis of the title alone, officials declared the work heretical and charged El Saadawi with insulting the ‘Almighty God’, not just Islam. Her prosecutors requested that all her books be destroyed, that she be arrested on return to Egypt and her Eygptian nationality be revoked.
In the play, the prophets and great women gather for a meeting with God. Satan arrives to tender his resignation but neither Jesus, nor Mohammad, nor Moses are willing to replace him. Finally, God himself resigns.
The second play in this collection is Isis, a critique of the discriminatory rules that control women, the daughters of Isis.
Both God Resigns and Isis incorporate key themes in El Saadawi’s work: that all religions are inimical to women and the poor, that the oppression of women is reprehensible and not uniquely characteristic of the Middle East or the ‘Third World’, and that free speech is fundamental to any society.
About the Author
Nawal El Saadawi (1931–2021) was an internationally renowned feminist writer and activist from Egypt. She founded and became president of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founded the Arab Association for Human Rights. Among her numerous roles in public office she served as Egypt’s National Director of Public Health and stood as a candidate in the 2004 Egyptian presidential elections. El Saadawi held honorary doctorates from the universities of York, Illinois at Chicago, St Andrews and Tromso, and her numerous awards include the Council of Europe North-South Prize, the Women of the Year Award (UK), Sean MacBride Peace Prize (Ireland), and the National Order of Merit (France). She wrote over fifty novels, short stories and non-fiction works which centre on the status of Arab women, which have been translated into more than thirty languages.
'El Saadawi writes with directness and passion.' New York Times Book Review
'More than any other woman, El Saadawi has come to embody the trials of Arab feminism.' San Francisco Chronicle