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The Others Paperback – September 1, 2009

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A rare, mesmerizing journey into the cloistered consciousness of a pious Shi'a university student in Qatif, Saudia Arabia, this controversial bestseller centers on a young woman whose lesbian affairs intensify her religious experience and compound her sense of self-abasement. A sheltered teenager living with her protective mother and studying Islamic jurisprudence at a women's college, the nameless narrator falls into a passionate physical relationship with another student named Dai, who is despotic and fiercely jealous. Given to flights of breathlessly manic description, the narrator depicts her secret shared moments with Dai in ecstatic bursts, all the while exploring Internet homosexual chatrooms and dabbling in flirtations with men and women. Erratically, she reveals details about herself, such as that a health issue has decreased her marriage prospects in a culture where early arranged marriage is the norm (her best friend essentially disappears when she gets engaged); as well, the narrator suffers from the losses of her father and brother. Al-Harez (a pseudonym) harnesses a great deal of a young woman's raw emotion, creating a startling and passionate work. (Apr.)
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“A revolutionary novel with a culturally fascinating contextual twist”­—Book Marks

“A hit when it was released in Arabic, the new English translation shows a side of the Middle East that many assume could never exist” —Modern Tonic Review

“A psychological portrait of what happens to the mind when it is kept inside a small space, The Others is both frightening and revealing”—Rain Taxi

“Already a best seller in Arabic (and published pseudonymously), this Saudi novel, in which a closeted lesbian Shia girl feverishly narrates her struggles and affairs, offers a rare personal glimpse into the repressive kingdom”—New York Magazine

“A trance-like excursion into contemporary Saudi Arabian life…[The Others] takes the mixing of ancient and modern cultures in the Muslim world and spotlights the contrast between the two”—The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide

“The exploration of an obsessed mind unable to relinquish her belief in a perfect body”–Counterpunch


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583228713
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583228715
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I have to say that I second much of Riem Farahat's review above, and I am a lesbian of half-Middle Eastern origin.

Too many clichés, metaphors everywhere, and an overall lack of cohesion that would have justified all the meandering.

The most disappointing aspect was that the nameless protagonist never came to terms with her lesbianism (or much else for that matter). The book was one long, self-indulging moooaan. She exhibited self-hatred throughout, and in the end she claimed to have found her peace with a male. Yes, sorry to leak the ending, but it's THAT kind of a lesbian story.

I must say that I found Riem's suggestion that she "wouldn't be surprised if the author did not turn out to be from Qateef, Shia or even a girl," to be intriguing. However, I did conclude that it was a woman who wrote the book. Confusion in men tends to be less melodramatic and capricious. To me, this was clearly a confused woman's story. In fact, the one positive aspect of this book was that it did shed light on the thinking behind some erratic, illogical, and self-destructive behaviour of a past lover.
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Format: Paperback
By the time I finished writing this review I came to conclusion that I DISLIKE the book A LOT.

The description of the book intrigued me enough to order the book right away and have it shipped to Saud Arabia. As it turns out the description is highly exaggerated!!

I am not a lesbian and have no problems with people engaging in homosexual activities. The main reason I bought the book is that I thought it would offer an upclose glimpse on a highly taboo topic in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. I don't claim total knowledge of a so called "lesbian world" in Saudi Arabia but I feel comfortable in saying that my knowledge triumphs the author's. (I think any Saudi female has more knowledge about lesbians that the author).

I found myself struggling to read the 276 pages book or even get into in. The author uses way too many metaphors and clichés for my taste and the story has no plot or conflict. At first I blamed the translation and decided to search for the book in its original language. I googled the book and to no surprise found it received a wave of criticism since its release in 2006. The book is supposedly banned in Saudi Arabia and in other gulf countries (but this has not been confirmed). Finally, I did find a downloadable version.

Little by little I abandoned the English version and stayed with the Arabic one, which also contained the exact metaphors. I found it more acceptable to read it in Arabic probably because am used to such metaphors by some Arab writers, who consider using metaphor an art (the more the merrier).

The book does not give enough details to be considered an erotic novel (as some reviewers describe it). Some homophobes found the little vague details disgusting and refused to continue reading the book.
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Format: Paperback
Like the other reviewers, I expected this book to be a gateway into a taboo topic in Saudi Arabia. We all know there are numerous homosexual relationships in Saudi Arabia, some in reaction to its practice of extremist segregation between the sexes, and others sprung forth from genuine romance. But what I found in THIS particular book was SO MUCH MORE. The narrator makes your heart pound with her obsessiveness, did Saudi society drive her to have such a negative outlook on life? Even her romance with Dai is extremely needy and riddled with drama. She comes from a very unique perspective in Saudi society, being a minority and oppressed threefold, being Shi'ite, a woman, and gay. I expected this book to be riddled with facts and figures on how Saudi Arabia essentially sucks to live in. But then I looked at the publisher and realized this book was meant for an Arab audience, and most Arabs already know that Saudi Arabia is terribly oppressive. That being said, I began appreciating the beauty in her writing. It's a shame that such a gifted authoress has to hide behind a pseudonym just because her country won't allow her to express herself. I am looking forward to many other works from this brilliant writer, on a variety of subjects. Hopefully, with such a dynamic voice, she doesn't just pidgeonhole herself to Saudi society. There is something of Nobokov in her writing, a warm and intimate voice. It gets you caught up in her voice and almost makes you think you're as crazy as the character.
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