Over a decade ago, in fact in 2001, I posted on the internet my novel, Alif, which has appeared in many places and some which I’d never expected.
I didn’t write it as a sex novel and there is, indeed, rather less sex contained in its pages than in, say, Women in Love or One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, but seeing as the novel is set in a State Brothel and given that one of the protagonists, Binta, is naked throughout virtually all the novel, not to mention that the central relationship in the novel is between two women there are plenty of salacious references which would normally be a natural fit for an erotic novel.
However, the well-travelled reader will have noticed that the novel’s title refers to the first letter in the Arabic alphabet and that many of the names of characters and places are of Arabic derivation. In fact, despite the fact that the main religion of the Republic of Alif is a form of Christianity, it is obvious that this fictitious society and the world it inhabits is more Arabic than Western, although it could just as easily be Eastern Europe in the years of the Cold War or indeed any nation in the World that aspires to be developed but isn’t quite yet a member of the world’s wealthiest countries. And such nations have tended towards an arbitrary legal system, some idiosyncratic cultural biases and a peculiar mix of the enlightened and the barbaric.
All this is to celebrate that my novel has been reviewed in GoodReads which can be read by following the link. The reviewer is Lbousson, an American with a voracious appetite for reading and in a very wide range indeed. I don’t know whether Lbousson is a man or a woman, but for convenience I shall refer to the reviewer as “she”. And she has written a rather nice review of Alif which can be read here. She’s also reviewed Glade and Ivory, but like Bluerabella she isn’t happy with the relatively abrupt end of the novel. (Perhaps I should have added a few more chapters after all!)
Lbousson is puzzled whether Alif A Satire is the same novel and I can assure her that it is. I don’t know why the subtitle has become conflated with the title (as it sometimes has with Omega whose subtitle is “A Satirical Phantasy”). But I am delighted that she says that my novel “was a great way to spend the weekend.”
And I can think of no greater praise than that!