The Pistachio Seller
by Reem Bassiouney

Syracuse University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-815-60919-3.
Reviewed by Rhonda Esakov
Posted on 01/10/2010

Fiction: Multi-Cultural; Fiction: Romance

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.

Authors/Publicists: For promotion purposes, you may quote excerpts of up to 200 words from our reviews, with a link to the page on which the review is posted. ©Copyright to the review is held by the writer (review posting date appears on the review page). If you wish to reprint the full review, you may do so ONLY with her written permission, and with a link to Contact our Book Review Editor (bookreviews at with your request and she will forward it to the appropriate person. has received a copy of this book for review from the author, publisher, or publicist. We have received no other compensation.

StoryCircleBookReviews provides a review venue for women self-published authors and for women's books published by independent and university presses.

Email me with news about your book reviews

Sarton Women's Book Award

Your ad could be here.
Advertise with us!


Visit us on Facebook and Twitter and goodreads.

Buy books online through by simply clicking on the book cover or title. Your purchase will support our work of encouraging all women to tell their stories.
This title is currently available ONLY as an e-book