The premise of this article is that anthropologists may examine how literature (and novels in particular) can be used by women to create meanings, and how these meanings are relevant to the lives of people in societies. It pursues this theme in the writings of Zaynab Hifni, a prominent younger‐generation author whose works have been distributed widely in the Arab world, if not in her native Saudi Arabia. Writing in the realist tradition, Hifni seeks to challenge male‐dominated discourses by exploring ways in which women can interpret cultural values and symbols for themselves and thus broaden their scope for choices.

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