Alifa Rifaat: Google doodle to honor Egyptian feminist author on her 91st birthday
- Egypt Arab Rep
Happy Birthday, Alifa Rifaat!
Google illustrates a beautiful doodle to celebrate the 91st birthday of Egyptian feminist author Fatimah Rifaat, better known by her pen name Alifa Rifaat (Arabic: أليفة رفعت). Her controversial short stories are renowned for their depictions of the dynamics of female sexuality, relationships, and loss in rural Egyptian culture.
Alifa Rifaat (originally known as Fatma Abdullah Rifaat), was born on this day in the year 1930, in Cairo, Egypt. Her father was an architect and her mother was a housewife.
Fatimah Rifaat penned her first short story—a tale centered around the village her family frequented in the summers—at only nine years old. Although her older sister scolded her and she was punished for her writing, she continued her dreams of becoming a writer through English studies at the University of Cairo in the late 40s.
Fatimah attended Misr al-Jadidah Primary school and The Cultural Center for Women for her intermediate education. She also attended the British Institute in Cairo from 1946 to 1949 where she studied English. When Alifa Rifaat expressed interest in continuing her education by enrolling in the College of Fine Arts in Egypt her father instead arranged for her to marry her cousin, a police officer.
Her sibling wasn't the only person close to her that attempted to silence her voice. Even though she published many stories under her pseudonym from 1955 to 1960, Rifaat's husband disapproved of her art and kept her from releasing her work for more than a decade.
For the first few years of their marriage, her husband allowed her to write and publish stories under her pseudonym despite the common idea of writing being a purely masculine field in Egyptian culture. She published her stories from 1955 until 1960 when she chose to stop after facing pressure from her husband to end her writing career.
During this nearly 14-year period of literary silence, Alifa Rifaat pursued the study of literature, astronomy, and history. Despite her attempts at preoccupation through these means, Alifa Rifaat remained frustrated at her inability to express herself and the societal issues she faced as a woman through literary means.
In the early 1970s, she finally began to write short stories again, a collection of which she released in 1983 under the title "Distant View of Minaret." This uncensored selection of 15 fiction narratives takes readers into the emotional world of inter-marriage conflict, bravely confronting forbidden subjects in hopes that more women like herself were encouraged to speak their truth.
In 1984, the Modern Literature Assembly honored Rifaat with the Excellency Award in honor of her over 100 published works, and several books have been translated into numerous languages and have been produced for television. Fatimah Rifaat Died at the age of 65 in January 1996.
Thank you Alifa Rifaat for not being afraid to share your truth and inspiring others to do the same.