Only in London
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Only in London

2.83 of 5 stars 2.83  ·  rating details  ·  267 ratings  ·  36 reviews
As a flight from Dubai comes into London's Heathrow and hits turbulence, four people from different corners of the Arab world are thrown together: beautiful, lost Lamis, recently divorced from her wealthy Iraqi husband; Nicholas, an expert at Southeby's on Islamic daggers; louche and noisy Amira, a Moroccan who lives off immoral earnings and the transvestite Samir, with a...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 15th 2009 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published March 28th 1986)
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Imogen Moore
I'm somewhat annoyed with this book. I was REALLY looking forward to reading it, but it just didn't turn out how I thought it would. The novel switches from Lamis' story, to Amira's and then to Samir's in each chapter, which was a nice way of seeing how the character's lives intertwined, but the main thing that irritated me was we heard a LOT more about what was happening with Lamis, more than anoybody else. And, unfortunately for me, Lamis was my least favourite character, she never ceased to a...more
My expectations might have been too high for Hanan Al-Shaykh after having listened to parts of her "The Story of Zarah" on the Swedish national radio.

It is always interesting to see the familiar through the eyes of "the Other". I don't think this novel comes up to the level of, for instance, Sam Seldon's classics "The Lonely Londoners" and "Moses Ascending" (Caribbean) or Zadie Smith's "White Teeth", or Andrea Levy's "Small Island" (Jamaican) all of which describe experiences of immigrants in L...more
ليلى المطوع
لم تكن بمستوى حكايتي شرح يطول - مسك الغزال

كانت رواية سطحية محورها الجنس

تتحدث الرواية عن اميرة المغربية التي تعمل كمسوس في لندن وكيف تخدع الزبائن بانتحالها صفة اميرة

لميس العراقية المطلقة من رجل لاتحبه تقع في حب نيقولاس وتخشى الارتباط به

نيقولاس العاشق المحب للميس واغلب الاحداث تتحدث عن الوضعيات والجنس بطريقة ساذجة

سمير الرجل الانثى الذي يبحث عن الشقر

لا انصح بها

I dont recommend it at all
Sara R Rizk
In the novel "Only In London" we meet the main characters on a plane from Dubai. They are from various Arab countries, thrown together when the plane hits some heavy turbulence. At Heathrow they take their separate paths, having exchanged telephone numbers, and for the rest of the book their paths cross. I didn't like this novel a lot because there were too many change of scenes in one chapter. The novel switches from Lamis' story, to Amira's and then to Samir's in each chapter, It got a bit con...more
Jayne Charles
This novel concerns four people, three of them Arabs living in London, and an Englishman fascinated by Arabian artefacts. It looked quite promising, with its cast of interesting characters – none of the Arabs conform to stereotypes: one is a divorced woman, one a prostitute, the third is a transvestite who hangs out with a monkey.

It’s hard to describe why I found it a difficult read. It isn’t badly written, and interesting things happen throughout. But I think it was the randomness of the whole...more
Martha Sami
The book is about 4 main characters... only 1 of them is interesting and the rest are plain boring!

It's way too simple of a book... there was no interesting turn of events or characters development ... all I felt was blah!
This book was also apart of my Arab Female Lit class. It was fun and quirky. For me it was a series of 'coming of age' stories. This was a total CGS (Critical Gender Studies) book. There are themes of inter-racial/cultural dating, homosexuality, and prostitution. But the book doesn't come off as cheap or informative. The stories that unfold are very organic and they flow so well together. It's non-fictional accounts of different lifestyles that can happen 'Only in London' was a very entertaining...more
I had hoped this book would be similar to Desperate in Dubai but it wasn't, the style of writing was difficult to follow at times, maybe things were lost in translation, and the characters weren't especially interesting, maybe even slightly two dimensional.
It's more like 2.5.

I felt this book dragged on with pointless decorative writing for most of its body and suddenly picked up speed, in terms of quality, at the end, when it made a sharp swerve from episodic vignettes with no apparent relevance to the plot or to any overarching theme, to thick, inspired, meaningful writing in the last 20 pages or so which after all saved the book from being merely a collection of impressions on Arabic life in London and gave it a focal point and gravitas.
I've tried reading Hanan Al-Shaykh before and never got past the first 50 pages. I gave this a try before realizing who it was written by (yeah, so I'm not always observant) and found my interest waning. When I finally recognized the author, I decided to finish anyway since compared to her other stuff it was fascinating. I liked it. Not great. Characters are a little flat...but I am recently divorced, so was able to bond a little with the divorcee main character.
Story of Arab immigrants in London that is very captivating.
Boring …….. Boring ……. Boring
It took me one whole week to finish the book
I like to finish what I started so I could not leave the book. In the same time I wanted to know what will happen to the monkey. It is about three Arabs met in Airplane from Dubai to Heathrow. They are struggling to cope with the life in London and trying to melt in to the new society in their own ways ignoring their roots.
Enjoyable, but not nearly as dynamic or as compelling as Women of Sand and Myrhh or Beirut Blues. Al Shaykh must know, of course, what it means to be an Arab woman in London--what it means to feel the cultural pulls of two disparate locations and to move between those poles--and yet this novel (to me) doesn't come across as poignantly or as powerfully as those set in Arab locations
Feras Hilal
The underlying theme is to reflect on Arabs who pursued lives in London that are otherwise unorthodox in the Arab world. While this is a theme that is interesting to explore, the writer did so in a supposedly humorous, shallow and callow way. I would have preferred to see her approach it from a more mature and less "comedic" (if you can call that comedy) point of view.
Not my type of novel I'm afraid. Reminds me very much of Michael Ondaatje 's In the Skin of a Lion. Very post-modernist and disjointed.

Follows three Arabs immigrating into London, and how their stories combine. A few interesting social situations, but overall a bit too abstract to convey any real meaning.
Suncan Stone
I quite liked it but for some reason I picked it up at a moment when my reading was slow... but I do not think that it was slow due to the book... but then again, I also think it will not be one of those memorable novels, nor will this review I just wrote... I guess it is not the most helpful one ever...
Apr 07, 2012 Melinda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sam
I'm torn between 2 and 3 stars. I'd give it a 2.5 on LibraryThing. I only started getting interested in all the characters near the end. It wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't engaging enough to keep me reading except on my daily train rides. But maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I were Arab /and British.
This book starts off quite well with the introduction of 4 people on a flight from Dubai to London. There are some humourous moments when they are adapting to life in London. Despite this I found midway through the book it didn't hold my interest. It was a bit of a disappointment.
Saleem Khashan
في لندن تتقاطع طرق شخصيات عجيبة لها صلة بالعرب جميعها، قد يعترض البعض أن الشخصيات بعيدة عن الواقع وأقول من قال أن على الأدب الإلتزام بالواقع بحذافيرها ومين الي قال أنها ليست شخصيات واقعية مين؟ ليس أفضل كتب حنان لكنه أفضل من عشرات الكتب البايخة اللي تنشر كل سنة.
بصراحه روايه عاديه جدا جدا.لو لم تقرءها مش حتخسر اي شي.النجمه قيمتها لاني انهيت الروايه.
ثلاث شخصيات عربيه بلندن وكل واحد ومشاكلو.
Odai Alsaeed
نلاحظ ان اغلب عناوين كتب حنان الشيخ رنانة ذكية وتشدك لاقناءها. ولكن خذلتني رواية لندن التي اتت باهتة مملة مطولة في تفاصيلها الباردة. حاولت ان اكمل الرواية سريعا كي اتخلص من عبئها فاكملتها خلال اربعة اشهر ولم تعجبني البتة.
This books explores the lives of arabs from different parts of the region trying to cope to life in london .. it is not a study of any sort . it is funny at some parts, sad at others and some what revolting in one part.
Mai Abdeen
وصلني هذا الكتاب كهدية. بدأت بقرائته ولكني لم استطيع مواصلة القراءة...لم يستهويني الكتاب ولا استطيع ان احدد هل هو اسلوب الكاتبة او الموضوع المطروح الذي اوجد لدي حالة من رد الفعل العكسي والثقل من قرائته...
Laura Smith
Great book! I'm trying to read books, contemporary mainly, from Middle East and Arab countries. This is one of the few known Arabic women authors, from Lebanon. The book is funny and deep and I learned! ;)
I rarely don't finish a book, but with this one I just can't continue. There is no story line, the book is all over the place, and none of the characters make you care. Disappointing.
One of the nice novels by Hanan Al-Shaykh in which she describes how the lives of different Arabs intersect while living in London. It reveals the untold stories of Arabs in London.
Mark Owens
Charming and enlightening tale. Takes the reader all over London and affords a glimpse into a few of the varied lives of the Arab diaspora in London. Some beautiful imagery to boot.
ماشعرت بأجواء لندن أبداً .. حاولت الدخول في عالم الرواية كما هي عادتي عندنا اقرأ الروايات لكني لم استطع .. رواية جنسية بالدرجة الأولى ..
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Hanan Al-Shaykh (Arabic: حنان الشيخ) is a Lebanese journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and playwright.
Al-Shaykh was born into a conservative Shia' Muslim family. She received her primary education in Beirut, and later she attended the American College for Girls in Cairo.
Al-Shaykh began her journalism career in Egypt before returning to Lebanon. She has also lived in Saudi Arabia and is curr...more
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