Motorbikes and Camels ISBN: 9781944733995 Luminare Press, an e book by Nejoud Al-Yagout.
Plot: The story opens with Salma, a young girl who like others of her faith, has gained her knowledge of the opposite sex and romance secretly from magazines and/or TV. She believes she is in love with Khaled. However he loves Saadia. The reader then meets Maha who is enchanted with Bader but then meets somewhat older Ahmed and leaves Bader only to find Ahmed is not sure he wishes to marry so she returns to Bader whom she eventually marries. The ‘coming-of-age’ portion of the tale expands and continues on through the years following Selma, her friend Aisha who marries Hussam with whom she has a child only to discover her husband’s true love is a male. Aisha then has another partner, Meshary and the reader continues to be introduced to a number of other ‘disturbed’ individuals including the father Mohammed, a strongly ‘old school’ Muslim whose wife Zayna insists upon a divorce when he , as permitted, takes Lina, a second wife. She then becomes involved with Mike, an expatriate school teacher and the tale continues being told with many of the chapters devoted to the thinking and action of each character, often directly after the chapter explaining the situation that has involved the pair. Parenthetically a format that provides a degree of repetition.
Discussion: In spite of the above description of complex but simplistically superficial appearing interrelationships engaged in most frequently by essentially naïve individuals, the author has set forth a fascinating examination of the compelling situations that develop when modern concepts collide with long held strongly followed religious edicts, traditional teachings and societal influences of cast, monetary distinction, and similar factors. The Kuwaiti author has explored the basis, as well as reaction to both bi- and same sex relationships, definitions of certain aspects of the Muslim faith, teachings of the Koran, Sharia Law and existing traditional as well as less traditional interpretations and practices. This reader found a number of descriptions and/or statements especially interesting and an aspect of homosexuality intriguingly only provided in one usually preferred manner. An epilogue further extends the author’s thoughts.
Summary: A thought producing presentation of numerous complex issues arising from modern life’s entanglement with long held, but variously interpreted, aspects of the Muslim Faith and how they might interact in the lives of various individuals.
4* A look at modern life’s interplay with traditional Muslims beliefs.