Salwa Bakr (سلوى بكر) was born in 1949 in Matariyya, Egypt to a railroad worker. The stories and rituals of her widowed and unschooled mother sparked her interest in the world views and speech styles of the poor or uneducated women who inhabit much of her fiction. Bakr was educated in the Cairo area, receiving a degree from the College of Business at Ayn Shams University in 1972 and a second degree in literary criticism in 1976.
Her early stories explore the lives of women marginalized by poverty or social norms. In her collections Zinat in the President's Funeral Procession (1986) and An al-ruh allati suriqat tadrijiyyan (About the soul that gradually was stolen, 1989), Bakr focuses on portraying women's emotional worlds and the material circumstances of their lives through a language that claims a middle ground between standard and colloquial Arabic.
Bakr received local and international critical attention for her satirical novel The Golden Chariot (1995), in which she makes use of circular and digressive narrative techniques, similar to those used in the Thousand and One Nights, to explore the lives and histories of inmates in a women's prison in Egypt. Bakr's experiments with narration and her focus on exploring women's private worlds have influenced writers of both her own and a younger generation. Bakr names Chekhov, Cervantes, and Isabel Allende among her literary influences.
(Translated from Arabic into English)
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