The Taste of Olives


Ahram Weekly
Mahmoud El-Wardani
سحر توفيق طعم الزيتون

Ta'm Al-Zaytoun (The Taste of Olives), Sahar Tawfiq, Cairo: Supreme Council for Culture, 2000. pp136
Towards the end of the 1970s, Sahar Tawfiq published a collection of stories, An Tanhadir Al-Shams (That the Sun May Descend) that was well-received, but she seems to have remained strangely dormant since. This new novel, introduced by critic Mohamed Badawi, finally breaks that silence. "In Sahar Tawfiq's writing," Badawi writes, "there is an ever-present moral sense, however this remains hidden, like a secret waiting to be uncovered. It is a voice that must be listened to. It exists in the hypothetical space in which her characters interact, in her way of ordering time, in the sturdiness and clarity of her syntactical construction and in the delicately balanced lexicon that she draws on. This is writing that departs from daily amoral reality, even though it emerges from it, and to it it eventually returns."