Monday, 28 October 2019

The Greater Freedom by Alya Mooro

The Greater Freedom: Life As A Middle Eastern Woman Outside The Stereotypes by Alya Mooro
Published by Little A on the 1st October 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and my Book Of The Month for October 2019

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this rallying cry to outsiders everywhere, Alya Mooro makes her peace with not fitting in.

Egyptian-born and London-raised, Alya Mooro grew up between two cultures and felt a pull from both. Where could she turn for advice and inspiration when it seemed there was nobody else like her? Today, Mooro is determined to explore and explode the myth that she must identify either as ‘Western’ or as one of almost 400 million other ‘Arabs’ across the Middle East.

Through countless interviews and meticulous research, as well as her own unique experience, Mooro gives voice to the Middle Eastern women who, like her, don’t fit the mould. Women under pressure to conform to society’s ideals of how a woman should look and behave, what she should want and be. Women who want to think and act and love freely, without feeling that every choice means ‘picking a side’. Women who are two things at once and, consequently, neither.

Part memoir, part social exploration, this is a book for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

I hoped when I chose a review copy of The Greater Freedom from NetGalley that Alya Mooro's writing would be thought-provoking for me and that absolutely proved to be the case. I would happily put this book alongside We Need New Stories by Nesrine Malik and My Past Is A Foreign Country by Zeba Talkhani as timely and essential reading for everyone who is seeking new ways to understand our social history and alternative directions for the future. Mooro explores in depth how Middle Eastern women are socially conditioned to have certain life expectations, and how those us from Western countries are conditioned to view Arabs, particularly Arab women. I appreciated Mooro's candid honesty in recounting episodes from her own life, divided as it was between Cairo and London, which allowed her to develop insights into both cultures.

The Greater Freedom is a strong blend of personal memoir, philosophy and social commentary. Mooro includes the words of dozens of other women as well as quotations from a dizzying array of written sources to illustrate and support her ideas. (This is one of those books whose bibliography added lots more reading suggestions to my TBR!) She writes from a perspective which is uniquely her own, however I enjoyed recognising elements of her strict childhood from my own experiences. As women, regardless of where we were born or raised, I agree that we all have a lot more in common than perhaps we have been led to believe and we need to build upon this shared bedrock to support each other achieve our individual life choices. I feel The Greater Freedom is an inspirational call towards the creation of fairer societies where women's lives are no longer restricted by fear of what Everyone Else might say.

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London, England

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Books by Alya Mooro / Sociology books / Books from Egypt


  1. I'm not a fan of reading about other wax on about philosophy. I just feel preached at. :( I'm glad this hit the spot for you thought Stephanie!

    1. I didn't feel preached at in this book, though I know what you mean! Mooro writes with an engaging tone so I enjoyed discovering her points of view

  2. This sounds like a brilliant read for nonfiction November actually! Culture is something I am very interested in and being similarly divided between countries has me always interested to hear about other people's stories who have been through the same.

    1. Oh yes, this would be a perfect Nonfiction November read :-)