Daisy al-Amir

(1935 - )

Daisy al-Amir was born in Alexandria, Egypt*, in 1935. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree from the Teachers’ Training College of Baghdad, Daisy al-Amir went to Cambridge to study and write her thesis on Arabic Literature. Her father refused to pay tuition, however, and on her trip home, she stopped in Beirut where she found a job as a secretary in the Iraqi embassy. She chose to remain in Beirut. She was eventually promoted to the job of Assistant Press Attaché.


In 1975, when the civil war broke out in Lebanon, she was appointed director of the Iraqi Cultural Center. She retuned to Iraq in 1982 after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Her stories reflect women’s experiences during turbulent times in the Middle East including during the Lebanese civil war, and during the rise to power of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Daisy al-Amir is the author of five published works including: Al Balad al-Baid Alladhi Tuhibbuhu (The Distant Country that You Love), 1964, Thumma Tauda al-Mawja (Then the Wave Returns), 1969, Fi Dawwamat al-Hubb wa al-Karahiya (In the Vortex of Love and Hate), 1979 and Wuud li-al-bay (Promises for Sale, 1981) about the Lebanese civil war, and Ala la’ihat al-intizar,(The Waiting List: An Iraqi Woman’s Tales of Alienation), 1994.


Here the alienation is that of a cultural refugee, a divorced woman who is educated, affluent, and alone.


Al-Amir is also a poet and novelist. Her prose is influenced by a long tradition of Iraqi poetry. She is currently living in the USA.


*Though most sources say she was born in Basra, Iraq, the birthplace on her passport is Alexandria, according to family members.

Source: Opening the Gates A Century of Arab Feminist Writing, ed. Margot Badran and Miriam Cooke, Virago Press London, 1990.