Heather Raffo's 9 Parts of Desire

Trade Paper – $16.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-2345-8
Publication Date
November 2006
Page Count
96 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Heather Raffo's 9 Parts of Desire

A Play
Heather Raffo
Winner of 2007 Chicago Book Clinic Crystal Book Award for Excellence in Design

As topical as today's newspaper headlines, these rich monologues bring to life nine distinct Iraqi women whose very different stories convey the complex and harrowing reality of being female in modern-day Iraq. Their monologues quickly become a series of overlapping conversations leading to a breakdown in communication as the chaos of Iraq intensifies. Layal is a sexy and impulsive painter favored by Saddam's regime, breezily bohemian one minute and defensive the next; another woman mourns the death of her family in a 1991 bunker, and another--a blond American of Iraqi descent--painfully recalls a telephone conversation with Baghdad relatives on the eve of the U. S. invasion. Other characters decry the savagery of Saddam Hussein in terrifying detail and express an ambivalent relief at the American presence; still others--like a Bedouin woman searching for love--transcend politics.

The title comes from the teachings of the seventh-century imam Ali ibn Abu Talib: "God created sexual desire in ten parts; then he gave nine parts to women and one part to men." Heather Raffo's monologues weave these nine parts into a finely textured, brilliantly colorful tapestry of feminine longing in dire times. This compassionate and heart-breaking work will forever change your view of Iraqi women and the people of the Middle East.

About the Author
Actor and playwright Heather Raffo has performed Nine Parts of Desire to great acclaim both in London and across the United States, where it is currently in an open-ended run at the Manhattan Ensemble Theater. In March 2005, the play was awarded a special commendation from the Blackburn Prize. Originally from Michigan, Raffo now lives in New York. Her father is from Iraq and her mother is American.
"The voices are a study in contrasts: vivid and subdued, sophisticated and naive, seductive and standoffish. But they cohere to form a powerful collective portrait of suffering and endurance in Nine Parts of Desire, Heather Raffo's impassioned theatrical documentary about the lives of contemporary Iraqi women."--Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
"An example of how art can remake the world and eloquently name pain. . . the play brings news of the psychic life of the brutalized and allows us to think about the unthinkable."--John Lahr, The New Yorker
"Heather Raffo. . .brings us closer to the inner life of Iraq than a thousand slick-surfaced TV reports. Yet her beautifully shaped one-woman play is a play, not a stodgily earnest piece of documentary theater, and therein lies its singular force. . ." -- Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal