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By Elizabeth I.

What is a woman’s life worth? This is the consequential question that author Etaf Rum addresses in her captivating debut novel A Woman is No Man. Following three generations of Palestinian American women, Rum portrays what it means to face cultural oppression and familial duty while struggling to remain true to personal desire. Tied to their domestic duties as wives and mothers, watching men live untethered, the women in the novel feel little hope to escape and experience a world of their own choosing. But with hardship comes strength, and hope arises as the women learn to overcome their fear and fight for their right to be free. 

For the reader, Rum provokes powerful thought by offering an enthralling look into another world. One in which we are forced to answer daunting questions such as what is the price we pay for fulfillment. 

Etaf Rum’s own story is reflected throughout her book. Born and raised in Brooklyn to Palestinian Parents who knew a life of Refugee camps, Rum was forced to uphold the cycle of her culture enduring an arranged marriage at a young age. In interviews, Rum overcomes her fear of violating the expected privacy of her Palestinian American Community and conservative family. Bravely, Rum offers an honest and harsh depiction of the treatment of women, setting the stage for the next generation to stand strong for their beliefs. 

EVPL’s Women’s Fiction Book Discussion, open to all readers, will be meeting to talk about this month’s selection A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum on November 19 at 7:00 pm on Zoom. Register on the EVPL website, and the Zoom link will be sent to you. December’s selection is The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, a quirky romance about finding love unexpectedly. We look forward to sharing these reading experiences with you!

Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth I.


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