In her debut novel, Rajaa Alsanea reveals the social, romantic, and sexual tribulations of four young women from the elite classes of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
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.
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