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I Think of You by Ahdaf Soueif

What the blurb says:

In these selected stories from her collections “Aisha” and “Sandpiper”, Ahdaf Soueif writes about love and displacement in prose that is delicately nuanced and acutely observed. These are achingly lyrical stories, resonant and richly woven. But they always retain an edginess as they explore areas of tension – where women and men are ensnared by cultural and social mores and prescribed notions of ‘love’, where the place you are is not the place you want to be. She delivers her characters with infinite tenderness and compassion as they inhabit a world of lost opportunities, unfulfilled love and remembrance of times past.

I think of You is a collection of 8 short stories. They should be unrelated stories but there seems to be a continuation from “Knowing” which narrates a little girl’s childhood in Egypt surrounded by relatives and family members who loves her, to “1964” where suddenly the girl is transported to a place of cold, dark, wet and windy with lots of people and trains, and to Aisha who grew up to become a teacher and “Returning” to Egypt to visit her family and the other stories seems to take readers through the major events of a woman’s life as they became a wife, a mother and an old companion. The stories seems to be autobiographical of Soueif’s life to me.

It’s hard to be objective when you are reading a book. Many factors actually influence how you feel about the book. This book is influenced by the many great full length novels that I read before this and I am not great in short stories. I really like the first few stories a lot. The bullying between the girls in school to Aisha was hurtful when she was probed from which class of society she belongs to, about her awkwardness in PE lessons and the worse feeling of not belonging in school. From there on however, the rest of the book fell short of brilliance.

Still Ahdaf Soueif writes beautifully. I didn’t like The Map of Love all that much and I think her short stories in this case are better.

To everything there is an order and a pattern. And the pattern and the order are good. Time, from one birthday to the next, runs gently by, overflowing with an abundance of pleasures. If there are fears and griefs, they are minor and I am always able to be comforted by the grown-ups.


Another read for Middle Eastern Challenge.

Paperback. Publisher: Bloomsbury 2007; Length: 180 pages ; Setting: London and Cairo / Alexandria, Egypt. Source: Westminster London Library. Finished reading on: 28th June 2011.

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


7 thoughts on “I Think of You by Ahdaf Soueif

  1. Again, thank you for posting to the Middle East Reading Challenge. I really have to be in the right mood for short stories. If I really like them I want them to be longer and sometimes for me, it feels disconnected to have so many different stories in one book. At least you liked the first few stories!

    Posted by Helen | June 30, 2011, 9:48 pm
  2. I have the map of love but it’s still unread and sitting on my shelf gathering dust.
    I finally understood why I didn’t enjoy short stories, it’s because I forced myself to read the whole collection, now that I only read one or two it’s going much better 🙂

    Posted by Bina | July 3, 2011, 3:54 pm
    • Bina,
      I totally understand your reluctance. It’s one of those slow burning books you have to put your whole heart into it to stay focus. Not my favourite but Souief is a great writer. I think short stories is good for picking it up for bite sized chunk and then put it down again and pick it up later on.. you know like reading snacks! 😀
      Thanks for dropping by Bina.

      Posted by JoV | July 3, 2011, 4:53 pm
  3. These sound like very much worth reading short stories-thanks for sharing them with us

    Posted by Mel ui | July 4, 2011, 7:24 am
    • Mel,
      I search through the net but can’t find a free copy. But I found a free copy of For Bread Alone but requires subscription of the site. sigh.. can’t have everything for free.

      Posted by JoV | July 4, 2011, 7:47 pm


  1. Pingback: Halfway there.. It’s a wrap: June 2011 « Bibliojunkie - June 30, 2011

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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