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I really want to read this. maybe the writing isn't subtle but she seems to capture the society very well.
I think the internet has brought a type of freedom to these countries that we can't even imagine.


Fascinating. What a great introduction to a rather secretive society. You've got to admire her courage, too.


This sounds really interesting and curious about the translation. I wonder why they decided to throw out most of the work Booth did? I read a memoir a number of years ago by an American muslim woman who is medical specialist and she went to Saudi Arabia to work for two years. Upon arrival one of the other doctor's wives took her shopping so she could buy appropriate clothes. She also talked about relations between the sexes and family and work life that sounded a lot like your description of Girls of Riyadh


Interesting introduction to an unknown society. Interesting form also. The only novel I recall reading that was- albeit partly - based on emails was Ruth Picardie's Before I Say Goodbye.
It will go on my list!


Caroline--There are a few awkward moments with the prose but to be honest, you get so wrapped up in the story of the young women that you sort of forget about style. It really sounds like the internet is a way young people are able to communicate with each other--it's such a fascinating culture--I want to read more now.

Kathy--It seems to totally foreign to me--the way of life there. I wonder if she is back in Saudi Arabia now and if she lives a normal life, or if she is something of a celebrity?

Stefanie--This was interesting. I had no idea about the translation--both Booth and the author are listed as co-translators--that article was really very enlightening. I wonder how often something like that happens? Though I suspect many authors aren't able to translate their own work. Do you remember the name of that book? It sounds interesting. I read Five Parts Desire years ago and will have to dig around for my copy, though I wonder how dated it is now. I think she also wrote about Saudi Arabia. Interestingly many of the students seem to study medicine or education there, though maybe that is not entirely representative?

Catharina--I will have to look for the Picardie book. Now I am totally intrigued by the Middle East--maybe because it seems so foreign to me and how we live in the west. It would be interesting to get other perspectives.


I went through my lists and the book is called In the Land of Invisible Women. I blogged about it in 2008.


Stefanie--Thanks--it looks interesting--I've added it to my wishlist, but will see if my library has it next week. I bet I read the post and now will have to go back and find it. I tried to find my copy of Nine Parts of Desire, which I read years ago, but now don't remember if I read a library copy, or owned it and then gave it away. No doubt I'll buy it again and then discover it in some pile. Another one to find in the library, I guess. :)

Buried In Print

I appreciate the phrase that you've used to draw comparisons without actually revealing anything specific: each woman finds herself in "an unhappy predicament". I'm just scanning the books in my current stack to one side of the computer here, and it's funny to see what a useful phrase that is, indeed! It certainly does seem as though there's more to this book than might initially meet the reader's eye: I'm intrigued.


Having discovered your blog through BuriedinPrint's site, I had to share that I found this review of yours quite illuminating. The book sounds like it would be quite the eye-opener, if not the most stylistically pleasurable thing to read. I can't recall having read any recent books set in Saudi Arabia specifically, but I have heard that the 1989 novel, Cities of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif, is well worth checking out. It, too, was banned in that country upon publication.

I love discovering new reading material that appears, on the surface, to be one genre, but can in reality represent multiple concerns, and Girls of Riyadh sounds like it fits that bill perfectly. Thank you for reviewing and sharing!


What a fascinating and informative post. I tend to shy away from books that depict cultures radically different to my own. And then when I read a review like this, I thing, but this is SO interesting! Why don't I read more adventurously?


Buried in Print--I hate to give anything away, but still want to convey the feel of the book. It really was an interesting read and now I am intrigued by Saudi Arabia in general. What other country is known as KSA--a kingdom. The official name is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Novelniche--Hello. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment--please feel free to drop by any time! It is an easy read and very entertaining in terms of being a page turner. But the details of life there is what made it so fascinating to me. I have looked at the Munif, and I think the author is also of Saudi origins. I think he is writing about Saudi Arabia without actually coming out and saying so. I have it on my list, but it looks like a more challenging read so will get to it eventually. Sometimes the books you expect to be entirely superficial end up being very illuminating in other ways!

Litlove--I tend to stay very snugly in my own little reading niche and not venturing out much, so this was an interesting read for me. Not sure why all of a sudden the Middle East has become such an interesting topic to me. It's in the news so much I feel like I should really know more, and reading the literature of the region is a good way to start anyway. It also seems so exotic, which intrigues me. But I will still always have my other books handy to pick up, too, and think I need a cozy mystery on my pile now as well.

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