Girls of Riyadh (Paperback)

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By Rajaa Alsanea, Rajaa Alsanea (Translated by), Marilyn Booth (Translated by)
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Staff Reviews

The main reason why I decided to read this book was the very nice book cover along with its feminine touch. Then, the interesting title, and since I don't know much about life in Saudi Arabia today, especially a women’s perspective of it, I decided to pick up Girls of Riyadh. I read a Khalil Gibran book a long time ago, and this novel sounded like good fun to me which totally opposed my initial beliefs about The Qur'an and general life in an orthodox Muslim country.
The most interesting thing was when I realized that this is Alsanea’s first novel. I was really curious to see how Rajaa, a nice and very well educated 25 year old Saudi girl, would paint life in Riyadh and how she would manage to "translate" her religion and everyday life to somebody who has no connection to it.
She does it in a masterful way.
The book follows the university life of four pretty, clever, young, members of Riyadh upper class society who are also childhood friends. The four girls represent an array of personalities. Michelle, half American- half Saudi, is the most modern and energetic out of four. Gamrah is described as "a prisoner of a house", Sadeem a "prisoner of a men,” and Lamees, "a prisoner of her vanity". But all four represent the real Saudi women society today. Describing their life stories, this young novelist touches on much more serious topics than you would expect by just reading the book cover. She showed great respect for Muslim tradition but, at the same time, is open to many topics that simply don't exist as problems in modern democratic countries like the USA (women's rights after divorce, marriage rights, women's education and job prospects in such a conservative country).
This was a really fun and interesting book that you will read with great joy.

— Aleksandra, JFK New York


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.

About the Author

Rajaa Alsanea is the author of the novel Girls of Riyadh, which was long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award. She grew up in Saudi Arabia as one of six siblings in a family of doctors and dentists. Alsanea received her bachelor’s degree in endodontics from King Saud University in 2005.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780143113478
ISBN-10: 014311347X
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: June 24th, 2008
Pages: 304
Language: English