Nadaness In Motion is a book blog where honest book reviews meet author interviews, guest posts and personal writing ranging from poetry to short stories to the bi-weekly Takhayyal writing prompt challenge. ---
“You cannot kill a breeze, a wind, a fragrance; you cannot kill a dream or an ambition.” - Michel Onfray
The novella Necrophilia
by Sherine Hanaay is not your average story; it does not fall in the horror
genre but it is nonetheless an intensely dark novella. It delves deep into the
hallways of psychology, child abuse and its consequences, maturity and love. It
also handles death – in various ways.
mainly falls under the psychological-thriller genre; it is certainly new topic
in Arabic literature, something the writer should be lauded for. Necrophilia
is a book that I could not put down, and although I desperately wanted to know
how it would end, some part of me did not want to reach that ending and was
actually stalling to reach it. It is one of those books that makes the reader
fear the ending whilst fearing the end in the sense of the conclusion. Necrophilia
is by far one of the darkest pieces of literature I have ever read – and I
The novella is
about 12-year-old called Manseya, who is constantly described as being a
horrifying creature, lives with her father and stepmother and is neglected by
both. Her father abuses her both verbally and physically. We often see her
father – Sayed – wishing that she were never born or that she would die.
Manseya suffers from a disease, which the doctors have often diagnosed as
severe anaemia, until she meets Dr. Gasser, who diagnoses her disease as
Anorexia, the psychological disease of severe loss of appetite. After this
encounter, Dr. Gasser decides to use Manseya in his thesis for a master’s
Manseya is at the
early stages of maturity and here we meet her friend – if she can be called so
There is some
criticism of Egyptian society, where doctors in government hospitals do not
treat patients to the utmost of their abilities simply because these patients
are poor and pay little money. Thus, they receive as little service as the money
they pay. Should they go to these doctors’ private clinics, and pay more, they
would get better service and care. Dr. Marei, Gasser’s uncle, makes that note
to himself in chapter two.
One of the
prominent features in Manseya is her silence; she rarely talks. In chapter 3,
Manseya spills boiling water on her legs, and instead of screaming in pain she
remains silent for fear of being beaten up by her father.
Manseya has not
always been hideous and anorexic. She was beautiful once, when her mother was
alive. Her beauty fades when, her mother, the only person who has ever loved
her and cared for her dies.
The novella begins
with a horrifying description of her as being extremely thin with protruding blue
veins. Wherever she goes, people stare at her and at her odd figure. The reader
sees a gap between the way Gasser sees Manseya and the way she sees him; Gasser
views her as a topic for his thesis, something that will make him rise above
all others, whereas Manseya sees Gasser as the emblem of manhood and beauty; he
rouses her femininity. Manseya also has an odd fascination with all that is deformed,
mutilated or dead; it arouses her and reflects her mutilated psychology. Gasser
makes this discovery at the very end of the novella; he realises that Manseya
is sexually aroused by corpses and has in fact performed several of those
contains several poetic parts, in which the speaker is usually Manseya, with
the exception of the last section of the book. At first, I was a bit confused
by the poetry amidst the prose, but then I realised that the poems form an
integral part of the story. Not only that, but they also give variety and
artistry, which should be lauded in favour of the writer.
There is, however,
an oddity with the ending. I did not quite get why Manseya would assume that
striking someone with a deathly blow would keep them ‘alive’ for her. (I’m
trying to avoid spoilers).
It is worth noting
that the writer’s choice of names is both interesting and significant, as several
names reflect their characters. For instance, “Manseya” means ‘forgotten’,
“Sayed” means ‘master’, and “Fotna” means ‘sexually attractive or arousing’. It
is also worth noting that there is a lot of irony in the writer’s choice of
“Manseya”, for although she is often forgotten or rather neglected by her family,
the moment she exits a person’s life, that person cannot forget her and is
likely to be driven to madness in thinking of her.
Not only does Necrophilia
encompass the flashback technique, it also contains an extended flashback
within a flashback; which is quite interesting.
Although the book does not contain horrendously gory details, it is nonetheless not for the faint
of heart simply because of the abuse and dark details it contains. Necrophilia is as enjoyable as it is shocking. A 4.5-star rating is in order.