Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the king of spades.
Story: Faeries of the Nile, by Mansoura Ez-Eldin [in The Granta Book of the African Short Story] (translated from the Arabic by Raphael Cohen)
Comments: Mansoura Ez-Eldin is an Egyptian writer and journalist. In this story she explores the responses of a woman trapped in a very limited situation: physical poverty, a betraying and abusive husband, the death of their only son. The “river faeries” sing to the woman, entrance her, seduce her, and she succumbs… One critic says that it is a story about sexual repression, but I think that it points to much more than just sexual desire. It is about the woman’s desire for freedom, for self-determination, for a voice. The story itself gives the woman, Zeenat, no voice: it is told from the points of view of an omniscient narrator, and of the husband.
There are some great phrases: “my wife cried a lot, at her mother’s direction”; “She obeys me as if castigating me with obedience”.
The Guardian’s reviewer found the story “incredibly dated”, and Think Africa Press said it “show[s] a little too strongly the influence of past generations and styles… Faeries of the Nile is a story in the tradition of tiresome magical realism”. But I agree more with the Goodreads reviewer who calls it “a great piece of imaginative literature” and other more positive reviews. I would be happy to read more by this author.