Freedom in Confinement: Women's Prison Narratives and the Politics of Possibility

Yildiz H.

CRITIQUE-STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY FICTION, vol.60, no.2, pp.143-156, 2019 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 60 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00111619.2018.1511517
  • Page Numbers: pp.143-156


This article explores the intersections of politics and aesthetics, in two different narrative modes, representing a gendered experience of the prison space by two women writers from the Middle East: Sevgi Soysal's memoir Yildirim Bolge Women's Ward (1976), on her days spent in the political prison of the military coup of 1971 in Turkey, and Salwa Bakr's novel The Golden Chariot Does Not Ascend to the Heavens (1991), narrating the fictional lives of incarcerated women in a civilian prison in Cairo. Both narratives challenge the rhetoric of the prison narratives that depict prison as a space of confinement alone; instead, for some women, the prison experience, as depicted in these two texts, becomes a transformational experience that brings them a certain type of freedom, a space where they can realize themselves and show their creativity. This exclusively women's space allows women to establish an alternative community and become the agents of an alternative politics.