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According to the founder of Shiite Islam, “Almighty God created sexual desire in 10 parts; then he gave nine parts to women and one to men.” Hence the title of Geraldine Brooks‘ paradox-laden but edifying Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. During her time as the Wall Street Journal‘s Middle East correspondent, which began in 1987, Brooks—often cloaked in a chador herself—witnessed the overnight transformation of a co-worker from a Western-dressed sophisticate to a veiled Muslim fundamentalist; visited the home of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, remembered as a caring family man by his widow; and learned about the continued practice of clitoridectomy to ensure faithfulness to a husband as “a fallback in case the religious injunctions on veiling and seclusion somehow fail to do the job.” The author reads at 6 p.m. at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 429-9272. (Nathalie op de Beeck)