Monday, December 15, 2008

A Wonderful Little Book Called Embroideries: A Glimpse behind the "Muslim" Curtain

As other Westerners, all I know about the "Muslim" world is filtered through the Western lens. Yet, I've also learned that it is hard to claim one "Muslim" world, just as it is hard to claim one "Western" lens. Though I do not know much about the historical background of non-Western countries, I've always made a point in telling people that it is hard to think of one "Muslim" world or of one "Muslim" religion. All I had was to do was think of say Christianity, or the debates over what makes the "West" to know that there is no such thing as 'one version' of things or 'one religion'.

Yesterday I found this little gem of a book by Marjane Satrapi. Some of you might know her as the author of the book behind the movie Persepolis, which got a lot of attention back in 2007 at the Cannes Festival. The little book I got yesterday was Embroideries - as I said, a wonderful little book opening up the big black box of women's lives in Iran. And not just any type of lives, but their sexual lives.

It is a delightful easy read which leaves one wondering about the 'difference' between those all too often invoked lines of difference between West and East, North and South, Christian and Muslim, and so on and so forth. An autobiographic book, Embroideries is the story of many stories told by women about their sexual lives, about the power relations which structure their lives but also offer them the opportunity to bypass them and make their own choices.

Here's a short interview (in French) with Marjan Satrapi about her life and writing such a political (yet banal) novel about women's lives in Iran:

Photo credits: Random House

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