Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ruptured – The Good, The Bad, and The Egyptian

My very good friend Tarek Refaat is the first and only person I know directly that has written and published a novel, and it was IN ENGLISH! First of all, I am incredibly proud of his achievement. It is rare to have someone actually follow their dream and realize it, even if it may not be all that he, or I, expected. Before I start this review of his book; Ruptured, I would like to point out that he has done an amazing effort it trying to make this product the best that it can be. In addition, his amazing networking and people skills have helped him market the book, maybe in the virtual world more than around the country, but to have 4.5 stars on Amazon (not one of the reviewers being Egyptian, which is a shame) and quite a few reviewers on goodreads as well, this is where I stop and say WOW, and WAY TO GO!
Ruptured is about a rape victim, Farida, her story after the actual rape is done with the rapist doing his time behind bars, and how she moves on with her life; something Tarek has often wondered about because no one really tells you how it goes in books or movies. Unlike what we may expect, it’s not a happily ever after, even if the author has given it a happy ending. The book was written before the revolution in 2009, and was published way before the systematic rapes that have been going on in the country lately as a sociopolitical side effect, precisely in May 2011. A daring topic in a society like ours, and that is precisely the point of the book; how our gallant and compassionate Egyptian society treats raped women. As a side note, when you read the book, which I hope you do, you can generalize the idea with how our gallant and compassionate Egyptian society treats divorced women, women who have gone through abusive marriages, and what we call “3anes” or the spinsters (which can start for girls as early as 23 in some places in Egypt); damaged goods. Not only that, but it also tackles something very important in the human psyche; the predator that comes out in some people as they circle their emotionally impaired prey. Unfortunately, he does that a bit theatrically in a mix between Indian and old Egyptian movie plots, but hey, he gets the point through!
I will come out and say that the book isn’t really my type. I’m a Stephen King/Neil Gaiman kind of girl and drama stuff just doesn’t do it for me. Not to mention, I like artsy writing, and this book doesn’t have much of that. What it does have is some really touching stuff, and that is because it is honest. For a man who has never met a rape victim in his life to write so honestly about that particular sensitive topic, I can only give a standing ovation. Some parts of the book are really moving, making me tear up a bit (but just a little, don’t get the wrong idea), and some parts made me laugh out loud because they were so very Egyptian and so amazing to be seen described in English (think English dubbed Saneya Terter, that is if you’re into classic Arabic movies). But generally, the old Egyptian Indian movie plot thing ruined it for me. The story may lack a lot of “thickness” in the plot but talking to the writer, it was never his intention to have a thick plot. His intention has always been to portray how society deals with rape and rape victims. In that, he has succeeded with flying colors. The characters vary from very real to very fairytale-ish; you get your evil witch and prince charming all in one book! The damsel in distress, Farida, carries more depth than that, Thank God. The book is quite short, reads smoothly, and for an originally French schooled guy who works in IT and has to deal with more acronyms than actual words, Tarek and his editor Emily Richardson did a good job with grammar and style, although I would have preferred better sentence structure and more richness to the writing. I don’t believe in star rating books because I am a strong believer that life is too short to read bad books. I finished this one, it wasn’t a waste of my time, and since I have been so evil in describing it, I’d say I give it a steady 3 out of 5. For a first attempt novel, with a reviewer who finds bugs in software for a living, does not give out compliments, and is a reading addict, that is a damn good score!
So here we have a writer who has decided to go into the daring and quite scary world of book publishing in a language that is not native to his country about a topic that throws huge shadows over our society and culture. Man, that’s just brave!

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  1. As this article is my first encounter with a writer and his novel, i can say my OWN review about what i read ! that this is a good example of a strong and successful book review, firstly because i enjoyed the spirit, richness and eloquence of the article itself, and secondly because it made me curious to search for the book and give it a try !

    Good work and keep it up ;)

    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. I do not do a lot of reviews, even though I claim I read a lot, but I have written one more for Fahrenheit 451, would love to hear your opinion about it

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