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Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea

Girls of Riyadh (original 2005; edition 2008)

by Rajaa Alsanea, Rajaa Alsanea (Translator), Marilyn Booth (Translator)

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8075511,302 (3.37)56
Title:Girls of Riyadh
Authors:Rajaa Alsanea
Other authors:Rajaa Alsanea (Translator), Marilyn Booth (Translator)
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Saudi Arabia, Islam

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Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (2005)



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» See also 56 mentions

English (46)  German (2)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Not predictable. Intricate yet gossipy. ( )
  jessicaofthebees | Aug 15, 2015 |
Not predictable. Intricate yet gossipy. ( )
  valerietheblonde | Aug 5, 2015 |
A foray into the possibilities of love taken from the perspective of 4 young women. Not brilliant writing, nor deep thought. It is what it is. ( )
  TomMcGreevy | Jul 16, 2015 |
This was apparently a bit of a phenomenon when it was published, a Sex & the City take on Saudi society by a young Saudi woman studying in the US. It’s a shame then that it’s all a bit juvenile. It’s presented as a serial told via email by the author, who prefaces each chapter with an email “answering” some of the responses she’s received to the previous chapter. The story itself is about four young women – Lamees, Michelle, Gamrah and Sadeem. Gamrah marries Rashid, and travels with him to the US, where he is studying. But he seems more interested in a prior US girlfriend, and Gamrah finds it hard to cope with life in the West. She returns to Riyadh, pregnant. Sadeem falls in love, arrangements are made, contracts exchanged, but a couple of days before the ceremony she succumbs to his blandishments and lets him take it too far… so he divorces her. Michelle falls for a young man from a good family, but his mother won’t hear of her son marrying beneath him, so he breaks it off. And Lamees is a bit of wild thing, making friends with Shi’ites, visiting chat rooms, and getting arrested for meeting a young man in a café. And other things happen too. While it shows the appalling treatment of women in Saudi well, and I realise English is not the writer’s first language, but it is the translator’s, this could really have done with a lot of a polish. The novel is structured to look like the titillating adventures of an amateur writer, and the prose reads like it was written by an amateur too. ( )
  iansales | Apr 12, 2015 |
Sadeem, Gamrah, Lamees and Mashael are 'velvet' class girls in their first year of university: rich, privileged, and constantly brushing up against the strictures of Saudi society. They accept the teachings of Islam without question, but they long for love and hope to find men of their own choosing who will accept them as the free-spirited thinkers that they try to be.

On the surface of it, this is exactly the sort of book I hate: chick lit, in which 4 smart, independent girls define themselves almost entirely through their (much-imagined) love lives. The book is entirely given over to their dreams and heartbreak. But I didn't hate it. I swept through it rapidly, intrigued by the conflict between the girls aspirations and their situation, and fascinated by this rare glimpse into a society I know fairly little about: Saudi Arabia.

Ultimately, it is a paean to the right to make your own choices; to abandon social prejudices (or at least some of them; the section dealing with a Sunni/Shiite friendship remains awkwardly underdeveloped - crossing this religious boundary seems to remain beyond the pale); and a rallying cry to recognise the value of a smart, independent woman rather than abandon her for an uneducated, sheltered girl who can be dominated. A searing moment - a critic writing in to question why a man wouldn't marry another man if he was looking for that sort of relationship. Ouch.

But it is worth noting that it focuses strictly on a class showered with money and privilege. Compared with less well-off girls, the friends are bemoaning the cultural equivalent of #firstworldproblems - I was reminded of A Thousand Splendid Suns precisely because there are no similarities here. Regardless, this was a good read and I'm glad I finally got to it. ( )
  imyril | Sep 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rajaa Alsaneaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aabakken, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Booth, MarilynTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colombo, ValentinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corthay, SimonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mossaad, AntonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rooke, TetzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smiths-Jacob, BertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woillez, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Verily, Allah does not change a people's condition until they change what is in themselves." -- Qur'an, Surat Al-Ra'd (The Chapter of Thunder), Verse 11
To my most beloved; Mom and sister Rasha and to all my friends, the Girls of Riyadh
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Ladies and Gentlemen: You are invited to join me in one of the most explosive scandals and noisiest, wildest all-night parties around.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014311347X, Paperback)

When Rajaa Alsanea boldly chose to open up the hidden world of Saudi women—their private lives and their conflicts with the traditions of their culture—she caused a sensation across the Arab world. Now in English, Alsanea’s tale of the personal struggles of four young upper-class women offers Westerners an unprecedented glimpse into a society often veiled from view. Living in restrictive Riyadh but traveling all over the globe, these modern Saudi women literally and figuratively shed traditional garb as they search for love, fulfillment, and their place somewhere in between Western society and their Islamic home.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The tale of four young women university students from Riyadh follows their struggles to navigate the precarious paths between desire, fulfillment, and Islamic tradition while witnessing how the Arab world is being changed by new economic and political realities.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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