Lesbian novel shocks Middle East


The Middle East appears to have been shocked by Seba al-Herz’s The Others, a novel about clandestine lesbian activities in Saudi Arabia. The author’s name is a pseudonym; the translator is not identified; three years ago the book was published in its original Arabic version in Beirut, that liberal bastion of the Middle East where so many Arabic writers have begun their literary careers. The American edition prints the two words of the title together, i.e., theothers, suggesting an intimate coupling.

The American publisher also quotes Al Hayat, the daily pan-Arab newspaper published in London, stating, “[This book] could be the most controversial novel to emerge in our times, not just from Saudi Arabia, but from the whole of the Arab world.” All that is quite a mouthful, especially when juxtaposed to added remark—also from the American publisher—that lesbianism in Saudi Arabia is “punishable by death if discovered.”

Read Charles R. Larson's review here.


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