Nine Parts of Desire

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women is the story of Brooks’ intrepid journey toward an understanding of the women behind the veils, and of the often contradictory political, religious, and cultural forces that shape their lives. In fundamentalist Iran, Brooks finagles an invitation to tea with the ayatollah’s widow—and discovers that Mrs. Khomeini dyes her hair.

In Saudi Arabia, she eludes the severe segregation of the sexes and attends a bacchanal, laying bare the hypocrisy of this austere, male-dominated society. In war-torn Ethiopia, she watches as a female gynecologist repairs women who have undergone genital mutilation justified by a distorted interpretation of Islam.

In villages and capitals throughout the Middle East, she finds that a feminism of sorts has flowered under the forbidding shroud of the chador as she makes other startling discoveries that defy our stereotypes about the Muslim world. Nine Parts of Desire is much more than a captivating work of firsthand reportage; it is also an acute analysis of the world’s fastest-growing religion, deftly illustrating how Islam’s holiest texts have been misused to justify the repression of women. It was, after all, the Shiite leader Ali who proclaimed that “God created sexual desire in ten parts, then gave nine parts to women.”

Paperback ISBN: 0385475772


Geraldine Brooks has drawn on her wide experience and first hand knowledge of Islam and the Middle East to contribute a number of commentaries on current events in the region including:

In 1999 Brooks wrote an article for Salon on the future prospects for the late King Hussein of Jordan’s wife, Queen Noor, concluding “She is home”, it has proved to be particularly prescient. Read The feminist queen of the Middle East.

In 2002 she was interviewed by Linda McLure for Salon following the riots in Nigeria sparked by the Miss World Pageant. In What would Mohammed do? she puts to rest many myths about Islam and discusses the ambiguous position of women in Isalmic society today.

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