I started reading this book, I was not sure where it was going, and I
was not sure whether or not I was going to like it; however, after
the first few chapters, I was completely drawn in.
story concerns a refugee from Eritria, Naser, who is brought to Saudi
Arabia by his uncle, who has been living in that country for a number
of years. Ten-year-old Naser and his three-year-old brother leave
behind them war-ridden Eritrea, but also the love of their mother and
the other women in the camp where they had been living. In Saudi
Arabia everything turns into a black-and-white film where the men are
all dressed in white and the women are all hidden behind black
abayas. Naser grows up in a world of men, learning that women are not
only less worth than men but that they are also connected with
everything that is evil. If a man deviates from the path to Allah
then it is with all certainty because of a woman. The religious
police use the threat of punishment and death to keep the sexes
apart; Naser, who still has very fond memories of his mother, cannot
understand why women must be hidden away.
he meets a woman, who we only know of as Fiore (flower), and his
entire life changes.
a social commentary, it is interesting and disturbing to see how the
men, deprived of the love of women, enter into temporary homosexual
relationships until the time when they eventually marry. The
hypocrisy is at times quite sickening, and the hold of the imam over
the general populace is unbelievable. Naser is brave enough to rebel
against mediaeval rules and regulations where man is king and woman
is an unfortunate necessity. The reason he is able to rebel is
because he has discovered true love, something that most of his peers
never really find.
is understandable that many men who have grown up with such beliefs
often continue to act in a similar manner, even after moving into
other cultures, but understanding is one thing, acceptance is
another. In order to change such deeply ingrained beliefs, it would
be necessary to change the teaching of the imams or else give men
in these countries the permission, the space and a reason to think
Sulaiman Addonia was himself a refugee with many experiences that
paralleled those of Naser gives the story a greater depth and
credibility. Definitely worth reading.