Essays and Features
In Latifa al-Zayyat’s “The Search: Personal Papers,” the author guides the reader on an internal psychological journey of mythological proportions. This self-exploration on the part of al-Zayyat is a personal quest for authenticity and enlightenment.
The narrative structure of al-Zayyat’s text is more than the historical sum of her life as a feminist, political activist, and prominent author. It is an attempt to reflect on the past events of her life in order to render them into a coherent unified whole.
Arab cultural circles have recently mourned the loss of the prominent Egyptian intellectual Latifa al-Zayyat, who died of cancer in Cairo on September 10, 1996. She was 73 years old. Her death came soon after she had received Egypt ’s highest State Prize for literature. While the state’s acknowledgment of her achievements was long overdue, al-Zayyat had much popular and collegial support throughout her often difficult life-journey.
Many Mideast scholars and political groups have grown increasingly concerned with the dwindling numbers and persecutions of Mideast Christians. One Lebanese scholar, Dr. Antoine Saad, wrote a book in Arabic, “The Survival of Christians in the East is a Muslim Choice,” where he advances the flawed thesis that the survival of Christians depends wholly upon the Muslim majority (his thesis attributes the survival of the Lebanese Christians to their leadership, a topic not discussed in this essay).