Nawal El Saadawi's books are known for their powerful denunciation of patriarchy in its many forms: social, political, and religious. Set in an insane asylum, The Innocence of the Devil is a complex and chilling novel that recasts the relationships of God and Satan, of good and evil. Intertwining the lives of two young women as they discover their sexual and emotional powers, Saadawi weaves a dreamlike narrative that reveals how the patriarchal structures of Christianity and Islam are strikingly similar: physical violation of women is not simply a social or political phenomenon, it is a religious one as well.
While more measured in tone than Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, Saadawi's novel is similar in its linguistic, literary, and philosophical richness. Evoking a world of pain and survival that may be unfamiliar to many readers, it speaks in a universal voice that reaches across cultures and is the author's most potent weapon.