Category: Saudi Arabia

Ghazi Algosaibi: شقة الحرية (An Apartment Called Freedom)

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The latest addition to my website is Ghazi Algosaibi‘s شقة الحرية (An Apartment Called Freedom). This novel takes place between 1956 and 1961, primarily in Cairo and follows a group of young men, primarily Bahraini, who have gone to Cairo to study. As well as their studies, they pursue other activities. Girls are their main interest but all of them, one way or another, get involved in politics of varying kinds. Nasser is in power and Fuad, our hero and presumably based on the author, is a keen supporter and eventually gets to meet him. Fuad and one other pursue a writing career with some success. They are young men at university with all that entails but also Arab nationalists and Muslims in a period when there is great upheaval in the Arab world, not least because of the Suez Crisis. It is certainly a fascinating book, not least because Westerners will be able to identify with them in some respects but not in others.

Omaima Al-Khamis: رواية مسرى الغرانيق في مدن العقيق (The Book Smuggler)

The latest addition to my website is Omaima Al-Khamis:‘s رواية مسرى الغرانيق في مدن العقيق (The Book Smuggler). This is a superb book set in the Islamic world of the early eleventh century. Our hero/narrator is Mazid al-Hanafi, and he is very keen on book learning. He comes from the desert region of Al-Yamama and moves to Baghdad, where there are religious and political disputes. He just wants to study but gets involved with a group called the Voyagers, who try to disseminate worthy books throughout the Islamic world. These books are often considered heretical and include translations of Greek books as as well as Islamic works. We follow Mazid travels through the Islamic world – Jerusalem, Cairo and ending up in Cordoba – and the many problems he has, including religious, political and even romantic as he tries to get the books to the right people without being caught by the wrong people. It is a wonderful tale, full of colour, adventures and religious and political ideas, and the first book on my site by Saudi woman.

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