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A Woman Is No Man: A Novel Hardcover – March 5, 2019

4.5 out of 5 stars 8,139 ratings

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Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of March 2019: Newlywed Isra thought life would be different when she immigrated to America from Palestine, but her dreams were quickly dashed. You’ll need to steel yourself the more you delve into Etaf Rum's penetrating debut novel A Woman Is No Man, which follows Isra’s journey, and that of her daughter Deya. The clash between dual cultures creates much of the drama, as Deya tries to do what her mother ultimately couldn’t--break free from their family’s violent, misogynistic past and forge her own path in life. While A Woman Is No Man is a rallying cry to resist patriarchal strictures designed to keep women in ‘their place,’ it is also a love letter to books and their transformative power. Reading was one of the only comforts, and acts of rebellion, that Isra enjoyed, and she had a particular affinity for literary heroine Scheherazade: “For a thousand and one nights [her] stories were resistance. Her voice was a weapon—a reminder of the extraordinary power of stories, and even more, the strength of a single woman.” It’s the harnessing of that strength that sets Deya, and this family, free. --Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review

Review

“A dauntless exploration of the pathology of silence, an attempt to unsnarl the dark knot of history, culture, fear and trauma that can render conservative Arab-American women so visibly invisible. . . .  The triumph of Rum’s novel is that she refuses to measure her women against anything but their own hearts and histories. . . . Both a love letter to storytelling and a careful object lesson in its power.” — Beejay Silcox, New York Times Book Review

“What is a woman’s life worth? This question echoes across countries and generations through Etaf Rum’s intense debut novel…. The narrative draws links between economic desperation and discord in the home [and] also touches on the legacy of violence passed down from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories…. A Woman Is No Man complicates and deepens the Arab American story — a tale as rich and varied as America itself.” — Diana Abu-Jaber, Washington Post

“I couldn’t put it down.  I was obsessed with figuring out the mystery of this family.” — Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show Book Club Pick

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum is a stunning debut novel that hooked me from page one.  With the utterly compelling characters, Rum accomplishes the high-wire act of telling a story that feels both contemporary and timeless, intimate and epic. This is a novel you devour in a few precious sittings, that you press into the hands of friends and family, that lingers in your heart and mind long after the last page.” — Tara Conklin, author of The Last Romantics

“Garnering justified comparisons to Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns... Etaf Rum’s debut novel is a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice.” — Refinery 29

“Rum writes of the complexities inside the lives of Arab American women. She probes the dark and the daunting as she tells the story of a Brooklyn teenager navigating the wishes of a family who want her to marry.” — Juliana Rose Pignataro, Newsweek

“A blistering exploration of three generations of Palestinian-American women, unfolding in lyrical but demanding prose.” — David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly

“Sometimes heroism is loud and dramatic. Other times, it is daring to listen to that quiet voice within and have the courage to follow it. In this story, we see inside the lives of three generations of Palestinian women living in America, struggling and suffering to hear that voice. Etaf Rum has done a great service by sharing these voices with us.” — Shilpi Somaya Gowda, author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son

 “Three generations of women from a conservative Arab family living in America are at the core of Etaf Rum’s riveting debut novel. From the very first line, Rum brings you into the hearts and minds of these characters, and you’ll stay connected to them well beyond finishing the last page.” — Ciera Velarde, Buzzfeed News

“Explores themes of cultural expectations and taboos, family tragedy and the immigrants’ story, all from the perspective of an author whose life experience bears many similarities. [Also] how women who are limited by societal norms can make their own unique contributions to society and be ‘equal if not greater than men.’” — Nick Meyer, Arab American News

“A story of how a woman can break taboos and break free from patriarchal misogynistic families. This mesmerizing novel will take all your attention from the very beginning.” — Washington Book Review

“Etaf Rum’s A Woman Is No Man is a shattering, revelatory tale of immigration, womanhood, and the cyclical impact of violence and oppression. In her unflinching story of both loss and hope, strewn with enthralling, vibrant characters, Rum has accomplished the extraordinary: a tale that bridges the domestic and the global, memory and future, the old world and the new. A spectacular debut.” — Hala Alyan, author of Salt Houses

 “A Woman Is No Man, bold as a drumbeat, banishes the repressive silence that haunts Isra and her spirited daughter, Deya. This tender tale of women soldiering through a barbed world is a clarion call and a work of literary bravery.” — Nadia Hashimi, author of The Pearl that Broke Its Shell and A House Without Windows

“[A] brave debut [that] underscore[s] the economic and political challenges that contribute to the victimization of women…. Throughout this heart breaking yet inspiring novel, reading, the forbidden pleasure, offers an alternative sense of community and a safe place for dreams. In that tradition, ‘A Woman Is No Man’ contributes its own gratifying and immensely healing salve.” — Al Jidad

“A richly detailed and emotionally charged debut.” — Kirkus

“First-time novelist Rum’s setting… is rare: a Brooklyn Palestinian enclave in which reputation matters above all else…. The daughter of Brooklyn Palestinian immigrants, Rum was often told ‘a woman is no man.’ Overcoming her fear of community reprisal, she alchemizes that limiting warning into a celebration of ‘the strength and power of our women.’” — Booklist

“A gripping portrait of three generations of Palestinian women whose narratives are heartfelt and unsettling. Rum writes with tender sensibility, creating characters with layers of complexity and depth. She gives these women what they most desire and deserve: a voice.” — Frances de Pontes Peebles, author of The Air You Breathe and The Seamstress

“Through well-developed characters and a wonderfully paced narrative, [Rum] exposes the impact that the embedded patriarchy of some cultures can have on women while showing more broadly how years of shame, secrets, and betrayal can burden families across generations no matter what the cultural or religious affiliation. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal (starred review)

“Etaf Rum's acclaimed debut novel looks at Palestinian-American women's experiences within their tight-knit, patriarchal Brooklyn community. Though their neighborhood isn't far from the hip Williamsburg neighborhood of Girls, it's worlds away…. When writing her book, Etaf Rum drew from personal experiences…. Like her protagonist, she had to undergo a trek to find—and listen to—her own voice.” — O, the Oprah Magazine, online

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper; 1st Edition (March 5, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0062699768
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062699763
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,139 ratings

About the author

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The daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has a Masters of Arts in American and British Literature as well as undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and English Composition and taught undergraduate courses in North Carolina, where she lives with her two children. Etaf also runs the Instagram account @booksandbeans and is also a Book of the Month Club Ambassador, showcasing

her favorite selections each month. A Woman Is No Man is her first novel.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
8,139 global ratings

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Jaybrody
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully Brilliant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully Brilliant.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 24, 2021
This book explores themes of generational trauma, culture, exploitation, misogyny, lack of freedom and much more, through the eyes of Isra, Deya (Isra’s daughter), and Fareeda (Isra’s mother in law).

I personally think this book was one of my favourite reads of 2021 and it is so clear that it’s based on a true story. It felt way too real to have been completely fictional. The way this book angered me to my core is unreal. If this books doesn’t invoke anger to you at all, it definitely didn’t serve its purpose. It is an incredibly thought-provoking book and it scares me that these types of situations regularly occur to people in real life. It’s not an easy read, but you’ll learn so much from it; trust me.
I would definitely recommend looking into trigger warnings before reading this as there are many mentions of suicide and domestic violence. I usually get through books like these in 3 days, but this book right here took me about a week to process (bare in mind that i’m 17yrs old).
it’s a 10 out of 10 for me. Remarkable writing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, interesting story
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