Professor Hanaa, the protagonist, fiercely independent in a male dominated society makes for a memorable lead character. The book is, at times odd, curious, intriguing, witty, frustrating and compelling. Hanaa will stick in my mind for some time yet. As a newcomer to Egyptian writing it offers a frank portrayal of gender and the status of women in that country.WhichBooks
The novel nevertheless manages to offer an interesting look at contemporary Egyptian society, in academia and beyond... And while Professor Hanaa can seem too extreme a character, especially in her domineering state, she is certainly a captivating one, with the unlikely Khaled serving as a good contrast and foil. Professor Hanaa is an odd mix of a novel. Fundamentally a romance, its intriguing premise and polarized protagonists also allow for a much broader social critique of contemporary Egypt -- even as the melodramatic back and forth between extremes distracts from it.The complete Review -- 18 Dec 2011
‘Today she must lose her virginity, mark five hundred papers, slap Samy soundly, then smash Abdel Hamid’s head with a hammer.’
On the eve of her fortieth birthday Egyptian academic, Professor Hanaa, finds herself alone and unloved. For twenty years she has battled with an impossible love for an unattainable colleague, and has become outcast in a society where family and friends mean everything. Her life is organised into endless routines, and her emotions are hidden behind a facade of stern, but joyless professionalism. The facade begins to crumble, however, when her birthday brings with it the realisation that she is about to turn into an embittered, forty-year-old spinster. Never one to admit defeat, Hanaa determines she will lose her virginity before her birthday, and sets her sights on Khalid, her teaching assistant. An earnest, hardworking and devout young man, Khalid is an unlikely accomplice; however Hanaa's powers of persuasion know no bounds. What ensues is a lively, witty, often sly commentary on gender and power relationships in both academia and the Arab world-a 'campus' novel of a wholly different bent.
Georgetown professor and Sawiris prize-winning author Reem Bassiouney’s PROFESSOR HANAA, is pitched as a Middle Eastern take on Oleanna and the Forty Year Old Virgin, examining the role of the single, career-driven woman in the Arab world.
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