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The year is 1970, a period of identity crisis in the Arab world. Hisham, the young hero of Adama, is now a university student in the big city, Riyadh. He expands his intellect by day and pursues heady, forbidden pleasures by night, indulging in arak, cigarettes and an illicit affair with his neighbour Sarah, a bold young housewife. Meanwhile, Hisham's disillusioned childhood friend Adnan abandons his artistic ambitions in favour of a loftier cause, Islamism. The two friends grow apart, ultimately becoming strangers to each other. They come to symbolise the opposite extremes of life in a repressive closed society. Eventually, Hisham's world becomes untenable as he can no longer reconcile his studious days and licentious nights. This contradictions plunges him into intense turmoil and self-loathing, until his past catches up with him, with surprising consequences ...
Turki al-Hamad is a highly successful author in the Arab world. His novels are highly controversial throughout the Middle East; he is the target of four fatwas (religious edicts) claiming his life. This is the second volume in Turki al-Hamad's explosive Saudi coming-of-age trilogy. The first volume, Adama, was published by Saqi in 2003. The author continues to live in Riyadh and teaches at the American University in Beirut.