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Fouada meets Farid, her lover, every Tuesday in a restaurant overlooking the Nile. But this week their usual table is deserted. She calls his home, but the shrilling of the telephone echoes in an empty room. Farid has disappeared.
As she searches for him, Fouada becomes tormented by questions. She is a trained research chemist, but works in a dead-end ministry job. Convinced that she has something to give to the world, she cannot find it. What is it? Why does she search?
'Searching' expresses the poignancy of loss and doubt with the hypnotic intensity of a remembered dream.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Nawal El Saadawi writes with directness and passion'
New York Times Book Review
'Reading Searching again, in light of a growing body of work in the Arab world on gender, feminism and social change, is like taking a look at this body from the inside out and seeing it in its raw state.'
Anastasia Valassopoulos, The University of Manchester
'In Searching, Nawal El Saadawi once again presents a psychological drama that will take you into the depths of a woman's despair. Intimate details and vivid descriptions fill this story of an ordinary person who ends up teetering over the abyss of insanity. Disappointed in love, Fouada wanders away from her job as biochemical researcher in a government agency, the emblem of soul-deadening routine. She calls her beloved obsessively, but he does not answer the phone's urgent ring. Questions fill her mind, as she doubts the basis of their love. With her mother's financial help, she starts up a little laboratory in an apartment without caring what people would think in a place where a woman living alone is assumed to be for sale. She pays little heed to her loving mother who worries about her daughter and her deteriorating health. Disgust with the attention paid her by the landlord who turns out to be an important government official adds to her self-absorption. Then the world and life come crashing back. This is a novel of Cairo with the languid Nile winding its way through a story of love, guilt, betrayal and redemption.'
Miriam Cooke, Duke University
'Searching is an intense psychological exploration of the state of mind of a young Egyptian woman who longs for both professional and personal meaning in her life, but finds herself isolated and adrift in a kafkaesque world of senseless work, with a dying mother and a lover who has gone missing. Nawal El Saadawi creates a hellish vision of Cairo. Her protagonist finds heself utterly alone in a world dominated by casual, brutal patriarchy and a shadowy authoritarian state. Searching is a disturbing text that makes the reader feel trapped in a world that often feels like a particularly bad recurrent dream.'
Jane Plastow, Leeds University