Mummy Eaters

Longlist, National Book Awards 2022 for Poetry

ISBN 9781496232540
University of Nebraska Press
author photo of poet Sherry Shenoda (Photo credit: not available)
Sherry Shenoda

Sherry Shenoda is a Coptic poet and pediatrician, born in Cairo, living near Los Angeles. Working at the intersection of human rights and child health, she serves as a pediatrician in a nonprofit health center. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

Winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, Sherry Shenoda’s collection Mummy Eaters follows in the footsteps of an imagined ancestor, one of the daughters of the house of Akhenaten in the Eighteenth Dynasty, Egypt. Shenoda forges an imagined path through her ancestor’s mummification and journey to the afterlife. Parallel to this exploration run the implications of colonialism on her passage.

The mythology of the ancient Egyptians was oriented toward resurrection through the preservation of the human body in mummification. Shenoda juxtaposes this reverence for the human body as sacred matter and a pathway to eternal life with the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European fascination with ingesting Egyptian human remains as medicine and using exhumed Egyptian mummies as paper, paint, and fertilizer. Today Egyptian human remains are displayed in museums. Much of Mummy Eaters is written as a call and response, in the Coptic tradition, between the imagined ancestor and the author as descendant.

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