Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi, Sherif Hetata
A brutal and disturbing story, this (though mercifully short). Firdaus tells her story with an incantatory force, daring the reader to try and judge her. The reader is just as implicated as the psychiatrist in the frame story, who experiences emotions told in words that echo Firdaus's. It's a compelling reading experience to follow this woman's growing awareness, although it takes us to a nihilistic place. Some paragraphs particularly impressed me as insights, like seeing that money is treated as a tabooed, indecent thing (page 67), or how women employees are prostitutes who sell themselves too cheap (pages 75-76).

It makes an interesting contrast to a very different Egyptian novel written a few years earlier, Miramar. Though I won't speculate on the cause of the difference between the style and perspective of the two authors (Naguib Mahfouz was a man, and twenty years older than Nawal El Saadawi, among many other things), Mahfouz wrote a book where he analyzed the failures of the male characters and thought that the woman in the story was stronger than them all; she had a lot of garbage to deal with from the men but seemed quite able to overcome it.