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The book tells the stories of three men. One, our main narrator Turad, is a Bedouin from the desert who through many misfortunes has ended up working in many service roles in Riyadh and feels rather bitter about the whole thing. Fair enough. The second is his friend, Tawfiq, who has been brought as a slave to Saudi Arabia from Sudan as a child. The third, Nasir, is an orphan who has been brought up in orphanages and foster homes. Most of his story is imaginings of Turad but we find the three men's lives have intertwined enough to give us some facts about Nasir's life.
The stories aren't particularly nice. It's not an overly happy book. But the storytelling has a great quality to it. It's almost magical. Like you're being whisked around by a hot desert wind, flitting to story to story, whirling into one narrative to the next. The feeling of a little sense of achievement when you find the smallest hints of a tie in to a larger story.
The book is banned in Saudi Arabia, and I'm not overly surprised. While not very political, it does touch on sexual topics I would think are taboo in Saudi Arabia. Hell, most of them are taboo in our culture. It did make me wonder if the character telling the story, or the author himself had underlying issues. However, he moves on quickly and carries on. It's just worth flagging, and if anyone else has read it, if they felt the same?
It's a short review. But it's a short book. I feel like I cannot talk about it too much as I may give away the story. If anyone is looking for a book about Saudi Arabia though, or by a Saudi author though, I definitely recommend this one. Don't read, Girls of Riyadh whatever you do. Garbage.