• The Book of the Sultan’s Seal, Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars

     

    It’s hard to imagine a debut more thrilling than Youssef Rakha’s groundbreaking The Book of the Sultan’s Seal. The novel is made up of nine chapters, each centered on a drive our hero, Mustafa Çorbacı, takes around greater Cairo—city of post-9/11 Islam. In a series of visions, Çorbacı encounters the spirit of the last Ottoman sultan and embarks on a mission the sultan assigns him. Çorbacı’s trials shed light on the contemporary Arab Muslim’s desperation for a sense of identity: The Book of the Sultan’s Seal is both a suspenseful, erotic, riotous novel and an urgent, unparalleled examination of accounts of Muslim demise.

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  • Always Coca-Cola

     

    Always Coca-Cola is the story of three very different young women attending university in Beirut: Abeer, Jana, and Yasmine. The narrator, Abeer Ward (fragrant rose, in Arabic), daughter of a conservative family, admits wryly that her name is also the name of her father’s flower shop.

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  • Sarmada

     

    Three women struggle against the forces of society, family, and passion in a small Druze village in the south of Syria as the country itself struggles against the forces of the Ottoman Empire, the French Empire, and then the Baath. The village of Sarmada is an enchanting place, but the people who live there don’t much notice it.

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  • The Book of the Sultan’s Sea...

  • Always Coca-Cola...

  • Sarmada...

 

Sarmada, By Dina

I very much enjoyed this read. I don’t think it’s fair to give the book poor rating because of the sex scenes. The sexual interaction between the female and the child is disturbing, but these things happen in real life.

A story has no limit, and should have no boundaries.. creative authors can paint spectacular storylines, flying carpets, utopian societies, or the very extreme of those.. This is the beauty of novels. Our jobs as readers should be to assess the quality of the writing, the entertainment value, and whether it provokes us to think and see the world differently. If an author writes about a murder in the street of Tripoli, it shouldn’t be taken to mean that he is given a negative perspective of the city? Criticizing an author because of events unfolding in his story is very simplistic and I sadly often encounter it when discussing books with Arab readers. The truth is that, some Arab women and men desire those of the same sex. It is not my job to give a moral or religious judgment.. the book is simply addressing social issues that exist — including gay issues and child molestation .. what is wrong with openly discussing and addressing these issues?

Therefore, my four star rating is based on the fact that I found the book very entertaining and informative. One star off ’cause I felt the story was not very cohesive overall.