Recensito negli Stati Uniti 🇺🇸 il 13 luglio 2022
In any place there are always two types of expats, those who try to blend in the society and truly value the experience and try to engage in their new environment, the other type are those who don’t because they believe that they would fail to or simply don’t try, the author is obviously from the latter.
This work of fiction is a "recall" of the author's own experience when she worked for a brief time in Saudi Arabia in 1980.
Although the story took place in Saudi, the Saudis themselves are almost in state of absence in the whole novel, there are no main or secondary Saudi characters in the story, which makes you wonder why the author wrote this piece in the first place? even if the author failed or didn’t try to make any kind of relationship or friendship with the locals in her real experience, she should create some fictional Saudi characters with real role in the story to construct an amusing narrative. which is an expected thing to read in any story with similar circumstances.
The very few Saudis In the novel are either primitive Bedouins or mad men with sticks waving it at people for whatever reason, or creepy men who lick their lips once they watch the heroine's bare legs.
In the author’s world there is no such creature as "Saudi intellectual", in fact the reader would struggle to find a single Saudi in the whole novel that can be considered "normal"
By being biased and very selective, the author spared no effort in depicting Saudis as odd people.
The novel is very boring, it’s a story (if there is any) of bunch of Americans in foreign land engaging in endless silly conversations, the irony in the novel that the heroine (Gaylen) used to hear loads and loads of absolutely false information about Islam, Islamic law and the Saudi society from her fellow American expats.
Gaylen in return rarely challenged or questioned any of it, she didn’t even try to hear from the Saudis themselves which is the normal thing to do when you really want to know about any people, but instead she believed whatever her fellow expats said, as if they are Professors of Islamic or Arabic studies.
Those expats according to the novel don’t speak the language of the land (Arabic), and just spent short time in the country before spitting this nonsense to her.
There is no doubt that Saudi in 1980 wasn’t developed as it is now and yes many of the laws and rules in 1980 in the country were strict.
However almost all of these laws have been revised and changed, and many of the governmental bodies and authorities in the 1980 (like the so-called religious police) are no longer exist today, at the end the Saudi society like any other society, went through many changes and legal reforms throughout history.
Any positive person should be grateful for any country that hosted him for a period of his life, it’s an experience that should any person value, no matter how many challenges or difficulties that he or she might faced.
To prove my point about the false information in the novel, I will just give 4 examples, there are tons but this is just small sample
One of the characters in the novel said (if a married woman commits adultery or has forbidden sex, it’s legal for her father or brother to kill her)
Should I comment on that, I mean is there anyone with a sensible mind can believe this crap?
One of the characters in the novel said (As recent as 1970, only two percent of Saudi's female population was literate)
This is absolutely not true, not even close to the fact, Saudi females started to go to schools in 1950s, by 1970 the literacy rate among women was much more than 2%, in my estimate it was at least 25%
My old mother and almost all of my old female relatives are literate, most of them started school before 1970
Before 1950s there was already small percentage of literate women, who learned reading and writing mostly from their literate male relatives.
However, now it’s very difficult to find illiterate person in Saudi, the illiteracy has been almost completely wiped out
In this page a story of an American called Bert who was sentenced two years in jail in Saudi for bootlegging.
One of the characters said ( I heard that Betty (Bert's wife) is going to stay in Saudi while Bert's in jail, Prisoners have to buy their food or depend on someone else to bring it to them)
Wait a minute, what if the prisoner has no money or run out of money, would they let him starve to death? does this make any sense? would anyone believe that, is there any state in human history that didn’t feed the prisoners in its jails? is this an extermination camp or a jail for bootleggers? did the author live in Nazi Germany or in 1980 Saudi Arabia?
One of the characters said to Gaylen (Well, be grateful that you have toilet paper, The Bedouins wipe their ass with their left hand and eat with their right hand, remember that in case you’re ever invited to dine with them)
Anyone with real knowledge about Islam knows that hygiene is an important thing for Muslims, it's an essential part of their religion and because of that when they defecate they don’t just wipe their ass with toilet paper like the Americans do, NO, they wash their concerned body parts and rub it and wash their hands afterwards.
You see that this very clean act which reflects the importance of cleanness for Muslims is depicted misleadingly by this Author.
You don’t have to be sensitive to notice that the "racist tune" is very explicit in many lines in the novel.