by Turki al-Hamad - £9.99 Saqi Books (2005)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780863569111 | ISBN 10: 0863569110
The second volume in al-Hamad's explosive coming-of-age trilogy.
The year is 1970, a period of crisis in the Arab world. Twenty-year-old Hisham has left home for the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, where he's enrolled at university to study politics and economics. But this city has more than academic quailfications to offer a man of Hisham's mettle, and he soon discovers a strange underworld of alcohol and prostitution where fear, pleasure and politics merge. Here hospitals prove the richest cruising grounds; the desert is the place for illicit couplings; and now Hisham is spying on the bedroom activities of his next-door neighbour's wife, who has taken to leaving her door ajar.
Meanwhile, Hisham's disillusioned childhood friend Adnan abandons his artistic ambitions in favour of a loftier cause - Islam. The two friends - who rapidly grow estranged - come to symbolise the opposite extremes of life in a repressive closed society. But their shared past soon conspires to reunite them in a new and terrifying way.
(Price & availability last checked: May 2018)