Wednesday, 12 September 2007

"Girls of Riyadah"

"Girls of Riyadh"
By Rajaa Alsanea

An anonymous writer began e-mailing those who joined her mailing list to listen to the true stories of 4 friends growing up in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. This book is the consolidation of all these e-mails that caused a national outcry in Saudi with its revelations, even causing the book to be banned.

We learn about the lives of 4 girls living in Riyadh, the real story. Women in Saudi Arabia are often seen as oppressed under the strict Islamic Law imposed, however through these memoirs we are opened up to a world, a secret world that, is not seen other that by those living in it. We see the world of boys, University, marriage, divorce – all common features of any young woman around the world, yet have such a different impact on these girls, not only based on their religion but the cultural boundaries and systems imposed on them. The book was written in third person, a format that does not particularly appeal to me, due to the way in which it inhibits getting into a persons head and the way in which you sympathise with a characters. However, this book is a way in which we can understand a culture, which is often seen as very closed to the outside world, and observe a the ways in which they deal with universal feelings such as love, and situations like divorce.

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