I finished this book more than six months ago and the characters are just as fresh in my mind. I loved the narratives slow reveal of bits and pieces oI finished this book more than six months ago and the characters are just as fresh in my mind. I loved the narratives slow reveal of bits and pieces of family stories regarding romance/secrets and one generation caring for the next in the best way they know how. The images Stefaniak created regarding the village in the "old country" and immigration experience here in Milwaukee were memorable. I loved the music, the flowers and love that she portayed here....more
I find this book pretty haunting because of Noora's gender contraints, arranged marriage, lack of choices due to her family's lack of money and influeI find this book pretty haunting because of Noora's gender contraints, arranged marriage, lack of choices due to her family's lack of money and influence, and in the end her choice. Perhaps it deserves five stars and I am judging it on my reaction to the characters choices in the plot rather than on the writing itself.
In Noora's childhood in the rural area Musandam penisula of Oman nothing was easy for her family financially but she had quite a lot of freedom to be herself up to the point where her father has become mentally ill and her brother becomes head of the family. There were some very interesting pieces here, the visits from the matchmaker, advice from her mother, local people's understanding of madness, etc. Noora is deeply loved by a young man who she can't marry, something that many women can relate to, the lost soul mate. At one point she and her brother go to inquire to a witch/healer about their father's health. I found that an especially interesting scene. From here everything quickly changes for Noora and she is sent off to live as the third wife to a middle age man. The person in the household who becomes most like a friend to her is a slave girl. Here in that family she comes to understand deception, power, family politics, and grows up quickly. The ending for me shows how far she has come in just two years.
The descriptions of landscape and character portrayals are rich here.
Last year I vacationed in Dubai and it was interesting to see how life was quite different in the city but some things are the same like the Abra rides on Dubai creek and the souks surrounding that area. I visited the historic house, the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House and with that I could easily imagine the sort of big, traditional house with windtowers and many rooms where the pearl merchant of the story takes place. The social life of even the 1950s feels remote to the amazing modern city with tanilizingly beautiful skyscrapers and flower gardens everywhere.
This is an important book and I am glad that Maha Gargash wrote it and that my friend recommended it to me. As a cultural insider Ms. Gargash is a perfect guide on the journey that is the plot of this novel.
Dubai Wives by Zvezdana Rashkovich: A trip to the exotic desert city
In Dubai Wives ZvezdanaRashkovich delivers a trip to Dubai without the airline ticDubai Wives by Zvezdana Rashkovich: A trip to the exotic desert city
In Dubai Wives ZvezdanaRashkovich delivers a trip to Dubai without the airline ticket and additional expenses for hotel and restaurant and that was just what I was looking for. Zvezdana introduces the reader to the glamorous and the gritty in the exotic desert city on the Arabian Gulf that she currently calls home.
In truth I am still mourning the fact that I couldn’t attend the Dubai Literary Festival this year where I had hoped to meet the author in person. We have become Twitter friends within the last six months or so. Plain and simple she lives in a really cool place. This I know for a fact because I travelled to Dubai on vacation last year. In my past life I was an expat wife in Hong Kong so I can relate to the life of some of her characters and circle of friendship among diverse types of women far from their native homelands and families.
After receiving the book I found that she had self-published and wondered why she took that road. Then I began to read. I found that I was sucked into the exotic and dangerous world she created quickly. There in the pages were the fancy shopping malls that I visited and adored. There was the restaurant by the yacht club where I sat listening to the waves crash. There was the high spire of the Burj Dubai towering over the city seemingly piercing the heavens. In the pages I found again the wonderful Palm where I got goose bumps on the double-decker tour bus ride I took as it drove us on the road that forms the “trunk” past condos and villas, a mosque and finally at the tip the Atlantis Hotel. I could again glimpse the Indian and Pakistani neighborhood where my hotel was located. I was there while India won the world cup and I remember the electricity of those days in the clogged streets near my hotel and the ecstatic shop keepers in the gold souk.
Zvezdana’s characters welcomed me into the expat life that I of course didn’t get to participate in during my short visit to her city. Here were belly dancers from Eastern Europe, a young Moroccan ripped from her home and into the sex trade by opportunist “relative”, businessmen caught in greed, expats who have lost touch with their humble beginnings, wealthy women, and an American convert to Islam who married a man with a secret. It was a fascinating tour--like a friend who showed you around the good and the bad of her hometown and let you in on the secrets of her friends. Pacing of the book was fast. Within the first twenty pages I was hooked and fully engrossed in the strange tale set in Dubai.
The only “flaw” in the book is a handful of uncorrected typos that easily would have been cleaned up by an editor if she had had the benefit of a full staff at a traditional publishing house.
Dubai Wives is a strong first novel by Zvezdana Rashkovich. She is currently working on a second. 'Africa in the way I dance' set in 1970's Sudan where she grew up on farm by the Nile. ...more
Loved this fast paced novel. Al-Mohaimeed weaves character, time and point of view in a challenging way that has me wishing for more of his work to beLoved this fast paced novel. Al-Mohaimeed weaves character, time and point of view in a challenging way that has me wishing for more of his work to be translated. (I have and will read Munira's Bottle shortly.) There are images like the mother character in the desert digging into the sand trying to find her lost son among the place of jinn that are beautifully haunting. In my mind this book is fantastic and makes me consider the class structure and unseen characters in our own society and the way fiction has the power to influence us....more