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The Waiting List: An Iraqi Woman's Tales of Alienation (Modern Middle East Literature in Translation) Paperback – January 1, 1994

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0292790674 ISBN-10: 0292790678 Edition: First Edition

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daisy Al-Amir is a noted Arabic-language poet and novelist.

Barbara Parmenter also translated the popular Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Struggle for Independence.

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Middle East Literature in Translation
  • Paperback: 95 pages
  • Publisher: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Texas at Austin; First Edition edition (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292790678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292790674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,027,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on April 18, 1999
I was expecting woeful tales of life as a female in Muslim society but I was wrong. Her stories are wonderful in the context of just being a human female. She thinks of a lot of the things that I do, for example obsessing over someone else's possessions at a yard sale. Her insight into male/female thinking is very poignant. This is a bargain book and leads me to seek out other female Arab writers works.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By sshep10 on December 6, 2003
Al-Amir writes in a minimalist style, focusing, for the most part, on small scenes of humanity. Interesting observations about the place of time within an individual person's life are explored in "For a Pittance." After purchasing a photo album in an estate sale while visiting a foreign city, the narrator ponders the idea of living in the present. By immersing herself in the history of an unknown family, the narrator is able to live in the present because she is distracted from her own personal past and future. On page 21, the narrator thinks,
"I was squandering the present that I had planned to enjoy. I had deliberately forgotten my own past so that it wouldn't disturb the serenity of my present, the present I had rescued from crisis in order to forget the past and distance me from the future. And now I was intentionally occupying myself with an unfamiliar time and place, with people who are strangers to me. In my imagination I had arranged a future for their past."
I think what the narrator doesn't realize is that only by immersing herself in the photo album is she able to live in her own present moment, a moment she is glad ends at the end of the story when she returns to her home.

A few things bothered me about Al-Amir's writing style. I am willing to attribute these minor details to lingual discrepancies, but of course I can't read the Arabic version and thus don't know for sure. Exclamation points abound, along with rhetorical questions. There are very many brief paragraphs, which I found somewhat disruptive. Nonetheless, once I got to a certain point in the book I was able to overlook these grammatical and structural issues because I was interested in the stories that Al-Amir was telling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kim Glover on December 7, 2003
The Waiting List is a book that depicts the emotional struggles of Middle Eastern women. The short stories could all be talking about the same person at different times in their life. The author Daisy Al-Amir lends to us her insight into the various issues facing women in the Middle East. Each story, though short, leaves us with a lasting impression that is emotional and thought provoking. "The Umbrella" tells what it is like to be a woman who lives for the approval of her spouse with no self-image. Her friend finds her walking in the rain but barely recognizes her because of her bad appearance. The story called "Weeping" was about a mysterious weeping at night and no one was able to tell where it was coming from. In this story, our heroin brings a different meaning to being in touch with nature. I like the creativity in the weeping. In "A Doctor's Prescription" the woman used intelligence for the wrong reason. I want to withhold what she did because it would be giving the story away. Nonetheless, it shows an intelligent woman who lost hope. "A Crutch in the Head" brings to us a female who confronted her husband with the issues that made her unhappy.
What I liked most about this book was the author Daisey Al-Amir. She was strong enough to cross boundaries and bring us stories that appeal to people all over the world. During times of war in her own solitude she reached outside herself to create. I feel a kindred spirit with her and I appreciate the different sides of women that she was able to portray through her short stories. The stories were in depth enough to be interesting and short enough for us not to get bored.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Conte on December 8, 2003
The Waiting List by Daisy Al-Amir is a collection of short stories about
Arabic women. These women are all suffering in some way, either through
separation from their home or some other emptiness inside of them. I like
this book because the author really made me feel for the characters, even
though I have never been through their situations. The author wrote this
book in a way that anybody could read, understand, sympathize, and enjoy.
One of the stories that I really liked is "The Doctor's Prescription". This is a very depressing story about a woman who goes from pharmacy to pharmacy without a doctor's prescription and convinces all the pharmacists to give her some tranquilizers. She does this by giving them all the same elaborate story of how she would never be able to kill herself with these tranquilizers. She is so convincing that all these doctors each give her the pills, saying "With an intelligent woman like yourself, who thinks through all these stages, I suppose there's no concern". The woman then goes home and
kills herself by taking all of the pills.
I think that this is so ironic, and so true in life. You never know
what a person is thinking or feeling inside. The way that Al-Amir wrote this
story, even the reader herself is fooled into the woman's story until the
end. I like the way that this story made me think about the shows that
people put on for other people, and how they could really be feeling inside.
Also, it made me think about how unhappy this woman must have really been.
The manner in which she convinced every pharmacist to give her the pills, she
seemed so intelligent and honest, not like a woman who is about to kill
herself. She wasn't insane, she was just unhappy.
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