Amazon

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Mayada Daughter of Iraq By Jean Sasson

Recently, I bought two books Mayada Daughter of Iraq, One woman's survival in Saddam Hussein's torture jail and Princess, The story of the life inside saudi Arabia's royal family by Jean Sasson. This post is about my reading experience with the first book Mayada Daughter of Iraq. Review on second book , Princess is coming up soon ! 



In 1998 , Jean Sasson decided to visit Iraq to see the condition of Iraqi people under the sanctions and Saddam’s regime. Although, she knew well that she won’t get visa for her anti- Saddam views but still she sent a letter to Saddam with a copy of her book “The Rape of Kuwait”. Through her letter, she told Saddam, she had not agreed with his decision to invade Kuwait and that she does not have faith in him as well as his governance. Therefore, she wants to know how Iraqi citizens are living their life under the sanctions and Saddam’s rule. Surprisingly, she received permission to visit Iraq within three weeks.

Jean had planned to get female translator for her Iraq trip. Jean Sasson writes about  women’s issues. She knew that no Arab women would open her mouth in front of any male. Therefore, she thought female translator would help her to achieve her mission. Although appointing female translator for foreigners was against government policy but somehow she managed to convince Shakir Al- Dulaimi, head of the Ministry of Information Press Center to appoint a female translator for her. That’s where she met Mayada as her official translator.

Mayada and Jean became good friends in that trip. They were in touch with each other and exchanged emails once in a week. One day Mayada suddenly disappeared. Jean found it very disturbing and just when she became restless she received a call from her Mayada informing her that she was in “the can” – Saddam’s secret prison. Few years after the downfall of Saddam’s regime in 2003, Mayada decided to tell her story to the world through Jean and that is how her book Mayada Daughter of Iraq was born.


Sati Al Husri - Father of Arab Nationalism
Picture 1 
Mayada is the granddaughter of Sati Al Husri, known as the father of Arab Nationalism. Every Arab people including Saddam loved and respected sati for his honesty and his work for Arab Nationalism. When he died, Mayada was just seven years old. Even her paternal grandfather Jafar Pasha Al- Askari was a respectable man. He served twice as Iraq’s prime minister. Jean’s book Mayada provide all the interesting information about Mayada’s great historical family background. Jean’s book also shed light on Iraq’s history of war and helps readers to understand the modern political crisis in Iraq.

Mayada was a divorcee and mother of two kids Fay and Ali when she met Jean. She worked as a Journalist under Saddam’s rule and twice received awards from him for her writing. She started a printing press of her own after leaving her job as a journalist. Even under Saddam’s regime she never thought of leaving Iraq , the land of her father’s grave. She believed in the fake promises made by the Saddam. All her dreams were shattered when she was arrested by the Saddam’s secret police for no reasons and kept in cell no 52 with other shadow women.

In cell no 52 Mayada met an angel called Samara. Samara’s story and courage would bring tears in your eyes. Samara and all other women of cell no 52 taught me to be a selfless, strong, lovable, and caring woman. God knows what happened to those angels. I googled about them but could not find anything. I read an Interview of Mayada online where she said, she too had no clue about them. Most probably, saddam’s monsters had killed them one by one in the prison. But my heart wants to believe otherwise. Hope they are still alive. I pray to Gods of all religion to look after those women wherever they are and bless them.

Whenever I read Jean’s book I feel sad, depress, scared but at the same time, her book also always remind me to be thankful to God for giving me a normal life. She also encourages me through her writings to do something for those helpless women all around the world. No, Jean is not just like one of that westerner who loves to portray the superiority of America to the world. She just tries to become voice of the Middle East women, which had been suppressed by their own country. Jean's books is the  platform for those women to present their stories to the world.

Mayada Daughter of Iraq is a story of Mayada and other shadow women, captured and tortured by Saddam’s police. While, reading this book I felt like vomitting twice and felt dizzy. So, those who are weak  should prepare themselves mentally before reading it.

Few excerpts from Mayada Daughter of Iraq:


“While I cannot walk, I can speak.” With a smile she closed her eyes and whispered, “At the last prison, a poem was etched in the wall. Some poor, suffering, nameless woman died there. Wishing to keep some small part of her alive, I memorized her poem. I say this poem to myself, every day.”
“tell us later,” Dr. Sabah encouraged.
“No. let me tell you now, please.”
Dr. Sabah nodded. “All right. but do not tire yourself.”
Samara’s face and body twitched and she haltingly shared the verses she had so carefully memorized:

“They took me away from my home
They slapped me when I cried out for my children
They imprisoned me
They accused me of crimes I had never committed
They interrogated me with their harsh accusations
They tortured me with their cruel hands
They stubbed out cigarettes on my flesh
They cut out my tongue
They raped me
They cut off my breasts
I wept alone, in pain and in fear
They sentenced me to die
They staked me to the wall
I begged for mercy
They shot me between my eyes
They dumped my body in the shallow grave
They buried me without a shroud
After my death, they discovered I was innocent.


"As she stood as one with the other shadow women, Mayada told herself that she was living a great moment in her life and that she would never forget a single word from Samara's lips. Every flutter of Samara's movement would be a part of her until the day she died.

She cried quietly and soon all the shadow women were crying together.

Mayada looked around and her words broke the sadness binding them all. "We are comrades-in-tears," she said. Several shadow women chuckled wistfully."


Why should you read this book?

·        For her awesome writing style and simple language.
·         To know Iraq's history and modern Iraq.
·         To know about atrocities of Saddam and its secret police.
·         To know about personal life of Saddam and his family members.
·         To know about those brave women who were trapped in cell no 52.
·         If you like reading nonfiction.
·         If you love reading books on middle east.
·         If you love reading books on women issues.
.     If you love Jean Sasson

Why you shouldn't read this book?

·         If you are weak then just skip some pages from this book.

Do I recommend it?

Yes! However, it affects my health but I cannot stop myself from reading her books. I think I am addicted to her writings.

A piece of SHE’s … Rating:  4.5/5  

Click on Jean Sasson to know more about her and her books.

Image Source: Picture 1 

25 comments:

  1. Hi! This is Jean Sasson. Thank you so much for your comprehensive and thoughtful review, one of the best I've read because you say just what you feel, even if you have to warn readers that the going can get tough. But, that is true life isn't it? Never perfect and certainly had horrifying pitfalls under Saddam's dictatorship... I'm so glad that you read my books about these amazing women -- I could not write such stories if I did not have such courageous women as my heroines. And, true life is often so much more interesting than fiction, at least in my opinion! Thank you again and I'll look forward to reading your take on PRINCESS SULTANA, a Saudi ARabian princess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Jean ! I enjoy reading your books. Your books motivate me always to do something for the helpless women around the world. Thanks for reading my post . Your feedback means a lot to me.

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  2. Stories like Mayada's break one's heart. But they have to be told, the world has to know, until there are no more stories like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree with you. Waiting for that day when every women would enjoy equal freedom and equal rights. Thanks for reading my post! :)

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  3. That's so shocking, it needs to be read.

    Thank you for the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must read it. Thanks for reading my post :)

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  4. Good review and very profound theme you picked this time too to write on.

    On another note, I have read Princess already. I can tell you right now that you will love it and that you will come up with an amazing review for that one too :)

    Good Luck! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I loved It :-D Thanks for reading my post :)

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  5. As a lover of all books, I will definitely be putting this on my list of books I must read. Your review is incredible and the story itself sounds shockingly uncomfortable - but this is the way it should read. We all need to understand the truth no matter how hard it is.
    I am looking forward to your next review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks , Nichole ! :) My next review on Jean's Princess is up now. Hope you like it too.

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  6. Thanks for the review. Sounds tough going. The books are in my Amazon basket, but I'm one of the "weak" ones you mentioned, and know I'll struggle to get through them. How grateful we should be that people like Jean Sasson give a voice to these voiceless women. It makes me mad and sad that humans can treat each other so badly, so viciously. But their stories must be told. To remind us who we are...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree with you completely. Thanks for reading my post :)

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  7. Hey there :) Thanks for this review - i would have never known about this book if you hadn't mentioned it. I like books that teach me something i haven't stumbled upon yet and this looks like a good fit. BTW, there is a book called "Sotah", i think you might like it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome and thanks for the suggestion. I am looking for more books like this one . So, will definitely read "Sotah".

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  8. It reminds us of the cruel and sad world we live in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading , Nina! :)

      Love,
      Shainee
      apieceofshe.blogspot.com

      Delete
  9. Thanks, again, to all of you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a wonderful review! I just read Jean Sasson's new book "Yasmeena's Choice" which I think you will really enjoy. The book is even more enthralling than "Mayada" and even the "Princess Trilogy" because it is so tragic and detailed. "Yasmeena's Choice" is unlike anything the author has ever written and among her very best work.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just need some literature review about this book mayada daughter of iraq so plz help me ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please check out the two AMAZON SITES where this book is for sale and I believe that AMAZON USA and AMAZON UK have various editorial and literary reviews posted about the book. ALSO, I went to IRAQ in 1998 (JULY) NOT in 1991. That needs to be corrected on the blog. Thanks, so much! Jean

      Delete
  12. Kops Thapa, you can go to AMAZON and they should have literary reviews about the book. I'll go and look when I have time and let you know.

    ALSO: IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ALL OF YOU: I went to Iraq in July 1998 -- NOT in 1991 -- must be a typo on this page in the first sentence about the book. In 1991 I had just written THE RAPE OF KUWAIT and was busy that entire year with that book. This should be changed as I believe it will really confuse readers. THANKS SO MUCH! Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jean,

      Hope you're doing good. I am so sorry. I've corrected the mistake :)

      Love,
      Shainee

      Delete
    2. I'm doing good! I hope that you are, too... Nice to check in and say hello. Let me know your news. And, thanks for the date correction. Just a typo I'm sure. I do it all the time! TAKE CARE! Talk later, then! Jean

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Shainee! Great to touch base. I appreciate your site and enjoy looking through it. And, thanks for changing the date. I make such typos all the time. You are a lovely person. And, will talk later, then! Jean

      Delete
  13. Hi there. There is a new Jean Sasson 'Princess' book out, titled 'Princes: More Tears to Cry'. The book was just published recently. I read it and really enjoyed it. This is the fourth book in the series, and like the others it is a true story. The new one concentrates on Princess Sultana and her family as well as many of the women that she has come to know and help through her work to bring about change and freedom for the women of her land. Here is an interview with the author talking more about the new book as well: http://bit.ly/1rbjgrJ.

    ReplyDelete