Eyeliner: A Cultural History Audiobook, by Zahra Hankir Play Audiobook Sample

Eyeliner: A Cultural History Audiobook

Eyeliner: A Cultural History Audiobook, by Zahra Hankir Play Audiobook Sample
FlexPass™ Price: $17.95
$9.95 for new members!
(Includes UNLIMITED podcast listening)
  • Love your audiobook or we'll exchange it
  • No credits to manage, just big savings
  • Unlimited podcast listening
Add to Cart
$9.95/m - cancel anytime - 
learn more
Regular Price: $20.95 Add to Cart
Read By: Soneela Nankani Publisher: Penguin Audio Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 7.33 hours at 1.5x Speed 5.50 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: November 2023 Format: Unabridged Audiobook ISBN: 9780593791042

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

74:46 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

07 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

34:30 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Publisher Description

“Cosmetic, tool of rebellion, status signifier: Eyeliner has been all these and more. Moving through millenniums and across civilizations, Hankir gives the makeup its eye-opening due.” —The New York Times Book Review

“I loved Eyeliner. Hankir approaches her subject with dedicated curiosity, humility, and humor, blending anthropology, travel writing, memoir and history. A treat.” —Kassia St. Clair, author of The Secret Lives of Color

From the acclaimed editor of Our Women on the Ground comes a dazzling exploration of the intersections of beauty and power around the globe, told through the lens of an iconic cosmetic

From the distant past to the present, with fingers and felt-tipped pens, metallic powders and gel pots, humans have been drawn to lining their eyes. The aesthetic trademark of figures ranging from Nefertiti to Amy Winehouse, eyeliner is one of our most enduring cosmetic tools; ancient royals and Gen Z beauty influencers alike would attest to its uniquely transformative power. It is undeniably fun—yet it is also far from frivolous.

Seen through Zahra Hankir’s (kohl-lined) eyes, this ubiquitous but seldom-examined product becomes a portal to history, proof both of the stunning variety among cultures across time and space and of our shared humanity. Through intimate reporting and conversations—with nomads in Chad, geishas in Japan, dancers in India, drag queens in New York, and more—Eyeliner embraces the rich history and significance of its namesake, especially among communities of color. What emerges is an unexpectedly moving portrait of a tool that, in various corners of the globe, can signal religious devotion, attract potential partners, ward off evil forces, shield eyes from the sun, transform faces into fantasies, and communicate volumes without saying a word.

Delightful, surprising, and utterly absorbing, Eyeliner is a fascinating tour through streets, stages, and bedrooms around the world, and a thought-provoking reclamation of a key piece of our collective history.

Download and start listening now!

Combining the steady contemplation of the personal essay with her journalistic flair for storytelling, Zahra Hankir traces the history of kohl, traversing space, time, and cultures to delve into the deeply human importance of a makeup kit staple many of us don't give a second thought. The result is an engaging read that is poignant, enlightening, and full of emotional depth.

— Layla AlAmmar, author of Silence is a Sense  


  • Determination, grit and humour shine through the writing of reporters who frequently face opposition from their own families.

    — The Guardian, “The Best Books of 2019”
  • Refreshing (and long overdue) . . . Will appeal to readers of all genders and backgrounds who want to broaden their understanding of the Arab world.

    — NPR
  • A fascinating history . . . If you've never given much thought to the beauty staple, Eyeliner will change that forever.

    — Town & Country
  • This captivating account reveals the complex significance of a seemingly simple adornment . . . Hankir packs her reader-friendly narrative with relatable examples of cultural and geographic significance . . . Throughout, Hankir maintains an appealing sense of intimacy.

    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • A significant addition to cultural histories of self-expression. Hankir disrupts many deeply held assumptions about beauty, gender, and power . . . Hankir writes with boldness and care . . . [she] meticulously details commonalities in physical and aesthetic practices [...] without losing sight of cultural specificity or intersectionality.

    — Library Journal (starred review) 
  • Absorbing . . . Hankir provides an engaging, colorful study while relating her own cross-cultural story.

    — Kirkus Reviews
  • Detailed and engaging . . . [an] absorbing look at how people around the world use eyeliner to express and reinvent themselves . . . readers interested in beauty culture will be fascinated by this accessible examination of such a versatile and popular beauty product.

    — Booklist
  • Intriguing . . . [Hankir] uses this ancient form of makeup as an ingenius prism through which to explore cultural identity.

    — The Bookseller (UK), Editor's Choice
  • I loved Eyeliner. Hankir approaches her subject with dedicated curiosity, humility, and humor, blending anthropology, travel writing, memoir and history. A treat to read and—of course—beautifully eye-opening.

    — Kassia St. Clair, author of The Secret Lives of Color
  • Zahra Hankir’s Eyeliner is a captivating exploration of the historic lineage and contemporary use of eyeliner. An arresting feminist narrative from start to finish, this book reveals the depth and multi-dimensionality of a cosmetic that connects Queen Nefertiti to young women protesting in contemporary Iran and beyond.

    — Rafia Zakaria, author of Against White Feminism
  • Who knew the humble eyeliner could offer up so much? Zahra Hankir’s beautiful writing style and incredible attention to detail mean that even those with zero interest in makeup will find this book awe-inspiring and fascinating as it goes far beyond the realm of beauty.

    — Funmi Fetto, Contributing Beauty Editor at British Vogue and Beauty Director at the Observer
  • A refreshing anthology of essays by female writers whose work cut through the many clichés of Middle East reporting. Their accounts provide honest and raw depictions, recounted from their own experiences and from other women whose stories are often overlooked when reporting on foreign policy and conflict.

    — The New York Times
  • It has been many years since I have, at the end of a book, felt compelled immediately to start again from the beginning. . . . [A] superb compendium of reporting by Arab women . . . Intelligence and depth of insight . . . radiate[s] from these brilliant journalists.

    — Bobby Ghosh, Bloomberg
  • “Excellent.

    — n+1
  • A masterpiece . . . [and] an absolute must-read.

    — Bust
  • Truly groundbreaking.

    — InStyle
  • Powerful.

    — Bustle
  • Incredibly eye-opening.

    — Cosmopolitan
  • Eye-opening and surprisingly intimate . . . Hankir’s journalism background shines through . . . And her own reflections lend weight to the close-up and personal feeling conveyed throughout . . . Eyeliner is a thorough retrospective of a product that has endured over time and continues to play a significant role for cultures around the globe.

    — BookPage

Eyeliner Listener Reviews

Be the first to write a review about this audiobook!

About Soneela Nankani

Soneela Nankani is an award-winning narrator with over three hundred titles in many different genres including Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, and Nonfiction. She has garnered sixteen Earphones Awards, nominations for Audie and SOVAS awards, and was recently awarded AudioFile magazine’s Golden Voice Lifetime Achievement Honor. Her audiobooks have been featured in Best Audiobooks lists by AudioFile magazine and the Washington Post, among others. In her spare time, she loves to read (yes, really), learn languages, try new recipes, and travel. She lives in the DC area with her husband and two mischievous daughters.