Originally released in Arabic in 2005, the novel was immediately banned in Saudi Arabia because of the controversial and inflammatory content, though black-market copies circulated widely. The daring originality of Girls of Riyadh continues to create a firestorm all over the Arab world, and the excitement has spread far beyond the Middle East.
While this novel offers a distinctly Arab voice, it also represents the mongrel culture and language of a globalized world, reflecting the way the Arab world is being changed by new economic and political realities.
Riyadh is the larger setting of the novel, but the characters travel all over the world shedding traditional garb as they literally and figuratively cross over into Western society. These women understand the Western worldview and experiment with reconciling pieces of it with their own. This groundbreaking novel might be the very first that opens up their world to us - their culture, their struggles, their frustrations, their hopes, and their beliefs.
With Girls of Riyadh, Rajaa Alsanea gives us a rare and unforgettable insight into the complicated lives of these young Saudi women, whose amazing stories are unfolding in a culture so very different from our own.
©2007 Rajaa Alsanea; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. and Books on Tape. All rights reserved.
I love listening to Audible when I'm walking to work. I like a lot of different types of fiction, and promise to review more!
This is like an Austen tale for the Middle East. It is gossipy and full of trials and trivialities for the women and their paths into love. There is such a formality in the contracts of getting married and a code of honour to society life, but like most of Austen it becomes little more than background noise for me.
My husband and I are on our way to Saudi as he has accepted a job with ARAMCO. I have begun to read and listen to every book that I can get my hands on to understand their culture. This has been on that I have truly enjoyed. You are allowed to follow these 4 friends through their lives with much emotion. I find myself cheering for them and hoping for different endings to their real-life story. The narrator has a pleasant tone that she changes with the characters. I think this book would have been more difficult to read than to listen to as she pronounces the arabic phrases and translates them for you in the correct pronunciation. You will not regret this purchase.
"Essential if you work in the KSA"
This was amazingly helpful for me to understand the social issues of working with Saudi's.. great examples of the various challenges in this culture.
"Truth Is Often Stranger Than Fiction"
This may be a work of fiction, but it reads like a lot of the non-fiction/memior material that has been written by Arab women in the last 25 years. Enjoy it for the accurate cultural voyeurism it offers, respect it for the truth it tells.
"A colourful cultural journey"
I've listened to Kate Reading before and always enjoyed her performaces (particularily The Wheel of Time series). She speaks clearly with a certain dryness, cut when applicable by the required emotion.
I picked up this book because I've always been fascinated by foreign cultures, and from the preview this appeared to be a venture into the lives of young women in Riyadh. This is exactly what I got. It's full of reasons and situations that are similar and at the same time very different from what I've grown up with, and forms of expression in dialogue that seem to be plucked straight from Arabic, which I find absolutely fascinating (I don't speak Arabic but intend to learn).
I quickly grew to root for the four main characters, and followed them through their ups and downs. At the end of the book I was sad to leave them.
I've already recommended this book to most of my friends. That in itself is n indication of how much I enjoyed it.
"Insight into someone else's world..."
I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into these Saudi girls lives. It's written like posts to an email list where one girl describes what happens to her friends - mainly in the field of love.
"An insight into a closed world."
I really enjoyed the book and learnt a great deal from it. Wonderful travel into the world so different but all the same so close.
One of my friends suggested I read this book and it didn't disappoint. I enjoyed learning about a new culture combined with a classic love story or stories in this case.
finished it in a day on 1.5 speed it was great. one of the best.
Ok ..so this was a bit like a sisterhood of the traveling pants...in Saudi . It was enjoyable but didn't quite cut it. i love books about the "eastern" cultures...I can't put my finger on it ..but this didn't quite cut it.
"I know this is asking a lot"
Most of the blame for the disfunction is put on the men, however, the role of the mothers is suscribes but not taken as a serious part of the problem. These yong women will be 'enforcers' in 20 years and hence will propagate the problem.
It would have been interesting to get the men's view of all these relationships.
The insight into Saudi society is interesting and the fact that the book was banned speaks loudly about that society.
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