Riyadh is a city of masks, a city “like a pressure cooker that’s about to explode," a city that sleeps on a pile of words that no one dares utter. Saudi society has split into two camps, one adopting the slogan that God is strict in punishment, the other that God is merciful and forgiving. In the background the media trumpets that everything is perfect. Saudi writer Fahd al-Atiq explores this world through the character of Khaled, whose dysfunctional life, humdrum but rich in memories and introspection, bridges the gap between the old impoverished world of Najd and the consumerism of the years after the various oil booms, symbolized in this novel by the family’s move from the lively back streets of the old city to an isolated dream villa in the new suburbs, where their dreams are never quite fulfilled and their lives remain permanently ‘on hold.’
Subjects: Language & Literature
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