Iman Mersal: The Limits and Pleasures of Egyptian Womanhood

Iman Mersal is a major figure in international literature, an Egyptian poet whose work is characterised by her ardently experimental style. Her latest novel, Fee Athar Enayat Al Zayyat (In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat), was published in 2019 and was named as the winner of the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2021. Inspired by the work, life and death of Egyptian writer Enayat Al-Zayyat, Mersal writes the portrait of a woman rallying against a society framed by nationalism and fear, where individualism is something to be quashed. There are parallels between Mersal’s own experiences as a writer who came of age in 1990s Egypt and her protagonist who was trying to get published in the same country 60 years ago. Mersal discusses her astounding novel, contemporary Egyptian womanhood, and how translation takes words ‘to new languages and homes’ with poet and writer Mona Kareem, in an event filmed live at the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival.

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