Page 158 Books welcomes back author Etaf Rum to talk about her book A Woman Is No Man. Growing up, Palestinian-American writer Etaf Rum was taught there were limits to what women could do with their lives—marriage and children, especially sons, were paramount to a woman’s existence, while education, work and engagement with the outside world were not. When Etaf dared to ask why, she always received the same answer: because a woman is not a man. This lacerating phrase inspired the title of Rum’s unflinching debut novel, A Woman Is No Man, which dares to reveal dark truths about the lives endured by conservative Arab women in America. As she takes readers into the secret world of this insular community, Rum explores how arranged marriages, stringent prohibitions and narrow expectations can lead to emotional turmoil, abuse and even death for some of these women.
Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, by Palestinian immigrants. She teaches college English literature in North Carolina, where she lives with her two children. She also runs the Instagram account @booksandbeans.