Saturday, February 18, 2006
Bet none of you saw THIS coming, did you? It's an autobiography of a woman living in Saudi Arabia. Try to imagine that if you will. Me. Saudi Arabia. Woman. Autobiography. Autobiography. Me. Well, I did say I was going to try and diversify when it came to reading, and Nadia gave me a hand (thanks, love) by passing me this book, along with two others: Tuesdays with Morrie (awesome, awesome book), and A Child Called It. All three are autobiographies.
Right, now the name itself brings an image of a rich, beautiful girl, covered in diamonds and rubies, living in the lap of luxury, getting everything she wants when she wants it. If that image is what you have in mind, then it's going to be shot down to hell once you open the book. What follows is a riveting story of oppression, oh how women are treated in Saudi Arabia. They have to real rights, no say in anything, and are viewed only as things used for breeding with and sexual pleasure. In a family, sons are treasured, daughters are reviled, for fear that they might 'sully the family name'. Since birth, women are taught to be obedient to men, and men are taught to be stuck up, arrogant pricks who abuse them.
The story follows the life of Sultana, from her childhood days till her marriage, of all the trials and tribulations she has to go through as she dreams for a change in her world- one that will permit her to achieve her other dreams, for indeed, in Saudi Arabia, women have no right to achieve anything they want. From the way the story is told, (especially if you're a girl), prepare to spend a lot of time snarling and growling, and feeling sorry for, not this woman in particular, but the entire female population of Saudi Arabia. To describe some of the things they have to go through here would not do the book justice, so I'll leave it to you to read for yourself. You'll be surprised as to how harsh and extreme things are in these book, considering the fact that Arabs tend to generate the 'holier-than-thou' image on us Muslims.
The language is simple and clear. Using the first-person narrative, the author draws us into the main character's shoes in such an effective manner that you will feel as though you are the person, and, to an extent, wish that someone would sweep in there with a plane, rescue all the women, then drop a nuclear bomb on the remaining men. The story doesn't end as the book finishes- as it sets the stage for two sequels (which I hope to be reading really soon). It ends in a mournful, sad yet hopeful note. Which is, something that I'm thankful for. The way I see it, autobiographies are meant to end sadly. (part of the reason why I hated the Memoirs of a Geisha movie)
Rivetting and a page-turner. Despite what I expected it to be, it turned out to be a book that I will always remember.
8.5 out of 10.
at 11:06 PM
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Holy crap. Nicholas Pang, I will not doubt any book you throw my way anymore. NEVER. In fact, I'm finally opening that Haruki Murakami book right now. Yes, finally. Shouldn't have doubted your choices, never will again. ^^ Because this book just blew me away.
Now, I expected something Adrian Mole-ish from this book. The lead character is after all, a British teenager who narrates the story through letters he writes to his favorite singer (not a diary, but it almost passes of a kind of diary. Unique, really) And its almost a coming-of-age novel, teen angst and it is humorous at times, because of the way it's narrated early on. But this book is really much, much, more mature, with more heart-wrenching scenes and darkness in it that it's a lot more than I really expected it to be.
The basic premise of this book is about a boy, Raymond Marks whose life changes when he gets accused of being...well, *something* by the local community due to a slight misunderstanding, and his fucked-up Headmaster. From then on life spirals downwards for him and his single mom, as he (eleven as this is happening) is sort of ostracized from society and the people who were once his friends. This however, is told in a more past tense form as the story really unfolds as he is leaving home, headed to a place called Grimsby where he is going to work as a construction worker. The events of the past he tells to his favorite singer Morissey, through his letters, piece together his past and eventually lead to where he is now.
The story is purely a roller coaster ride of emotions. There are characters you will hate with such intensity, and then there are ones you'll love and cry for, the main character included. And despite being a novel with a teenager as the main character, only the last 40 or so pages are dedicated to any form of romance, which is also left without being developed because frankly, this story isn't about this boy's love life, it's about his growing up, and the challenges he face due to being 'less than normal', due to being 'the wrong boy' as he sees it.
I shed tears more than once while reading this book. And seriously, I haven't been moved this much for a long time now, not since- oh well, I'd rather not bring it up, but it's a really really good book- one that I plan to own when I get home. Cuz I have to return this to the library in a few days- so later I'm going to look for one at Borders or Kino and buy it. It's that damn good.
Something about the main character reminds me of Khairul though- how he adores that one singer that no one else he knows seems to appreciate, and yet he fiercely defends that-
Oh wait, Khairul doesn't defend Chris Martin anymore.
But I digress.
I give this book a perfect score, and it fully deserves it.
at 1:13 AM