Arwa Salih was a member of the political bureau of the Egyptian Communist Workers Party, which was founded in the wake of the Arab–Israeli War and the Egyptian student movement of the early 1970s. Written more than a decade after Salih quit the party and left political life—and published shortly after she committed suicide—the book offers a poignant look at, and reckoning with, the Marxism of her generation and the role of militant intellectuals in the tragic failure of both the national liberation project and the communist project in Egypt. The powerful critique in The Stillborn speaks not only to and about Salih’s own generation of left activists but also to broader, still salient dilemmas of revolutionary politics throughout the developing world in the postcolonial era.
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