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  #16  
Old May 9th, 2011, 01:02 PM
Arbaaz Balushi Arbaaz Balushi is offline
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Re: Book review--Inside the kingdom ( written by myself )

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Originally Posted by Zorro View Post

100% agree. Sasson's books also support this statement.
I just thought that sasson might have done the same what the heroien of that movie (still i am not able to recall its name) did. It seems, i was right.

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Jean Sasson's 'Princess' trilogy is a heady, thrilling cocktail of erotica, exotica, and sheer spine-chilling barbarism that will turn the blood of most Western readers thick with cold. 'Daughters of Arabia', the second sensational installment of wealth, corruption, and appalling crime within the royal family circles, reads like a fairytale.

I have lived in Saudi Arabia as an English Christian woman for the past seventeen years, and - along with many other expatriates - I believe that there is something fishy about the 'Princess' trilogy. For one thing, the books are riddled with mistakes - mistakes that anyone who has more than a nodding acquaintanceship with Saudi culture and religion will instantly be able to detect. Here is just a small sample of the glaring errors that I found within 'Daughters of Arabia'.

Princess Sultana's second daughter, Amani, is a Muslim fundamentalist who covers her hair all the time and even goes so far as to wear black gloves, black stockings, and the thickest veil whenever she steps outdoors. Yet Amani is also a passionate animal lover. She keeps dogs.

Alarm bells should now be ringing for anyone who is remotely familiar with Islam. Dogs are considered spiritually unclean by even moderate Muslims; they believe that it is impossible to pray in any room where a dog has set foot, until it has been purified. This is why there was such outrage in Iraq when American soldiers attempted to search houses with sniffer-dogs - it wasn't the search that people objected to, but the use of an animal that is second only to a pig in the uncleanliness stakes. In her first book, 'Princess', Jean Sasson herself mentions that dogs 'are not favoured by Muslims'. And yet she now wants us to believe that this raving fundamentalist girl not only keeps a pack of dogs as pets, but actually encourages them to urinate on her uncle and drink out of his glass? Even though respect for one's elders is an enormous part of Muslim culture? I don't think so. My suspicions deepened when I read on Jean Sasson's website that she herself is an ardent animal lover whose favourite hobby is rescuing abandoned strays. How...convenient.

Also convenient is the fact that Amani's sister Maha is her complete opposite in personality, going so far as to renounce Islam in favour of American rock music and a lesbian relationship. I find it very difficult to believe that the same set of broad-minded parents could have produced such radically different girls. The gulf between their personalities sparks much tension and conflict, which of course is a useful narrative technique in any novel. But this isn't meant to be a novel, is it?

The language that these royals use is extremely convoluted and archaic, peppered with arcane proverbs and filled with starchy grammatical constructions. Their dialgoue might easily have been lifted straight from the 'Arabian Nights'; I am only surprised that Sasson didn't make them say 'thee' and 'thou' instead of 'you'. Modern-day Saudis just don't talk like this. I know; I speak quite good Arabic. None of the conversations in this book ring true.

Coupled with these mistakes are the many lurid references to female circumcision. That is an African tribal practice; it has never ever been widespread in the Arab world, although Sasson gives the false impression that it happens to every single Saudi girl. She implicitly suggests that the keeping of concubines and unjust temporary marriages are also a big part of Saudi life, when they are virtually unheard-of. Oh, abuse of women goes on over here - I've seen it with my own eyes. Saudi Arabian women hold fifty-two percent of the university degrees and only six percent of the jobs. That's discriminatory. That's demeaning. Why doesn't Sasson write about this, I wonder? Could it be because lack of educational opportunity isn't topical and fascinating and frightening? Because it doesn't make the bestseller list?

Even if there is a kernel of truth in 'Daughters of Arabia', what good has this book accomplished? American women buy the book under the fond delusion that they are helping these bejewelled Eastern beauties in some small way. Nothing could be further from the truth. The book is banned in Saudi Arabia, and anyone who has any knowledge of the Saudi reverence for privacy will know that this kind of hurtful and over-exaggerated expose will only damage women's rights, rather than further them. Change has to come from within the Kingdom, not from without. Today I went to Jarir Bookstores (the Saudi answer to Barnes and Noble) and found a stack of poetry anthologies by Nimah Ismail Nawwab. 'The Unfurling' is a deeply honest book that calls for change at a profound level. One of the poems even damns the infamous religious police. And no one is rushing to arrest her, to beat her, to execute her - instead, they're inviting her to speak at King Fahd University and giving her book awards. While Sasson rakes in the cash, Nawwab is quietly working for the cause that Sasson claims to be so passionate about - only Nawwab has her eyes trained on real issues, not fabricated ones.

All Sasson's books have achieved is to to force Saudi Arabian ladies to carry unbearable burdens on their veiled shoulders. If a Saudi lady visits the West and chooses to keep her veil on, she can't walk down the street without some well-meaning woman gazing after her and wondering whether she chooses to dress like that or whether she's brainwashed, whether she's beaten, whether she's crying behind her mask, whether she wants to be freed or whether she hasn't realised how unlucky she is. Saudi friends of mine have told me that they get extremely tired of having to dispel these stereotypes. In short, all Sasson has done is to create extra work for Saudi women. I'm not sure that they're all that grateful.

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  #17  
Old May 9th, 2011, 01:34 PM
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Rakhi Rakhi is offline
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Re: Book review--Inside the kingdom ( written by myself )

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Originally Posted by Arbaaz Balushi View Post
I just thought that sasson might have done the same what the heroien of that movie (still i am not able to recall its name) did. It seems, i was right.



Review at Amazon
Sasson has taken a particular Saudi Royal and described her life. This doesn't mean that she was generalizing it. She was very specific from the beginning that she was talking about Princess Sultana and her daughters. Just because only one girl who is a devote Muslim chooses to keep dogs as pets doesn't mean that this thing never happened.

But nevertheless, it looked more like a fiction to me than reality. So, maybe I do agree with you at a different level.
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  #18  
Old May 9th, 2011, 01:34 PM
ashdoc ashdoc is offline
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Re: Book review--Inside the kingdom ( written by myself )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbaaz Balushi View Post
I just thought that sasson might have done the same what the heroien of that movie (still i am not able to recall its name) did. It seems, i was right.



Review at Amazon
the first book in the princess series seems to be all right , though intentionally explosive .

yeah ,the second and third book look downright fishy , especially because others also have written fiction in their next books after their first book ( based on real facts ) sold too well in the market .

once they realise the money making potential of the topic , they usually try to follow up with fiction dressed up as facts in their next books .

there is also the pressure from publishers to cook up stuff which is in the same vein as the first......

but the first book is a story certainly believable--in fact a story which had to be told
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