I Think of You

by Soueif, Ahdaf

In these nine vividly rendered short stories, the Cairo-born Soueif (The Map of Love, 2000) seems equally fascinated with the tenuous situations of immigrant women living in their adopted countries and with the difficulty of sustaining love in long-term relationships. In the title story, a pregnant woman develops dangerously high blood pressure and must be hospitalized; her Western dress threatens the more religious women on the ward and draws a doctor’s sexual innuendo. She takes comfort from her memories of a trusted friend sick with cancer, who defied her illness by wrapping her head in a green silk turban while lying in a “theatrical” bed “worthy of Cleopatra.” The women in these stories long to be stronger than the cultural forces aligned against them but find their lovers and their confidence fading away. Still, small gestures sometimes stand in for larger acts of rebellion; the restless but timid teen in “1964” finally stops attending school, where she is the object of much ridicule. The potent themes and far-flung settings make this collection rich reading.