Girls of Riyadh
, or Banat al-Riyadh
, is a novel by Rajaa Alsanea
. The book, written in the form of e-mails, recounts the personal lives of four young Saudi
girls, Lamees, Michelle (half Saudi, half American), Gamrah, and Sadeem.
The novel describes the relationship between men and women in the conservative Saudi-Arabian Islamic culture.Girls of Riyadh tells the story of four college-age high class friends in Saudi Arabia, girls looking for love but stymied by a system that allows them only limited freedoms and has very specific expectations and demands. There's little contact between men and women—especially single teens and adults—but modern technology has changed that a bit (leading to young men trying everything to get women to take down their cellphone numbers). The Internet is also a new medium that can't contain women and their thoughts like the old system could, and the anonymous narrator of the novel takes advantage of that: she presents her stories in the form of e-mails that she sends out weekly to any Saudi address she can find. Sex is described in this novel, and how men ignore women if they give themselves up before marriage.
Originally released in Arabic in 2005, Girls of Riyadh
was immediately banned in Saudi Arabia
due to controversial and inflammatory content. Black-market copies of the novel circulated and Girls of Riyadh
has been a bestseller across much of the Middle East. As... Read More