A Review of Stoning the Devil on The Feminist Wire

Stoning-the-Devil-Cover-jpgThe following is a short snippet of Jill Di Donato’s review of Stoning the Devil by Garry Craig Powell, published by The Feminist Wire on April 10, 2013.  The full review, entitled Western Novelist Paints a Racy Portrait of Middle Eastern Women in “Stoning the Devil,” can be found here.

Stoning the Devil, a recent collection of  interconnected stories set in the United Arab Emirates by writer Garry Craig Powell, dismantles the stereotype of the passive Middle Eastern woman. In this authentic and vivid work of historical fiction, which was just nominated for the for the Frank O’Conor Award, don’t expect to read about the Muslim woman hidden under a burka with no sexual appetite of her own. In fact, the three main female characters are carnal and sexually rebellious, defiant and even passionately violent — making perhaps, not always the most carefully considered decisions — as they are treading new territory — but decisions of their own nonetheless…

…More notable in this novel, is how Powell  moves away from the Western tradition of portraying the submissive Muslim woman as symbolic of a “backwards” Middle Eastern culture, one that should be viewed with hostility, primarily to support a colonial perspective. Writer Amal Amireh picks up this topic, writing, “The fixation on the veil, the harem, excision, and polygamy made Arab women symbols of a region and a religion that were at once exotic, violent, and inferior.“ So the comic, erotic, and even violent sex scenes in Powell’s novel are crucial to this portrait of Middle Eastern women…

Jill-Di-Donato-182x274A New York native, Jill Di Donato is the author of the novel Beautiful Garbage and a contributor to the Huffington Post, where she writes a column about sex, relationships, and gender politics. In addition, Jill is the Editorial Director of Unruly Heir’s Good Days Media Channel where she often writes about New York characters, arts, and style. She holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, where she has also taught writing. Currently, she is an adjunct Associate Professor of Liberal Arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology and teaches in Barnard College’s summer program. She dedicates her work to the empowerment of women through the arts.

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