Voted best novel of the year in 2006 by the International Alexandria Library, The Pistachio Seller by Reem Bassiouney is now translated from Arabic so that English readers can enjoy a delightful read.
This story begins with adolescent love as Wafaa, a young Egyptian girl, says with a sense of fun and humor: "It was Saturday. I remember. And while he was standing on a step ladder in the hall, changing a light bulb in the faint light coming through the window, I decided to love him."
Raised in a strict Islamic culture, young Wafaa struggles to come to grips with her own beliefs and the confusing conflicts of a young coming of age body. She meets her cousin Ashraf when he visits from England and develops a healthy respect and growing admiration for her world-traveled and educated older cousin.
Bassiouney lends much factual detail and precise description of the Islam and Egyptian cultures to her story and treats touchy subjects with realism and light humor. The characters are so well defined as to believe the story to be a true narrative of the characters. At times, I wanted to laugh out loud at the amusing thoughts and conversations that two adverse upbringings created in Wafaa and Ashraf. Other times I wanted to slap the characters for their actions and attitudes.
Read The Pistachio Seller through to the end to see how the characters grow and inter-relate with each other and society. Does Wafaa get her man? Read it to see if she does and learn more about the Islamic culture and have fun doing it.
Reem Bassiouney is an acclaimed contemporary Arabic writer. She has published five novels in the Middle East and is an assistant professor of Arabic at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. This is her first introduction to an English audience.
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