Monday, October 19, 2009

The Dawn of Saudi

Homa Pourasgari
Linbrook Press (2009)
ISBN 9780977978014
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views


Homa Pourasgari's "The Dawn of Saudi" is a surprising and eye-opening book. While at a first glance it appears to be your run-of-the-mill romance with some mystery mixed in, the reader might well find a good deal of enlightening and educating reading in it. In this shrinking world of ours I always found it to be a good idea to familiarize one's self with other cultures; and few of them are as mysterious and incomprehensible to most of us as the radical Islam culture, where woman's rights are not even a word.
Moving seamlessly between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the story of two young women, Dawn and Sahar, is gripping and engaging. Dawn, a young American, meets and falls in love with a Saudi man, who persuades her to convert to Islam and marry him, pretending to be a progressive thinker who will let her live a modern life. All too soon Dawn is faced with the grim truth and the only way to escape it is through rather grisly violence. Sahar, Dawn's friend, is a Saudi from a wealthy family, whose parents are quite progressive, but unfortunately the family is still ruled by her paternal grandfather who sees Sahar as a useful piece of barter in his business dealings. Sahar refuses to marry somebody she does not love and does her utmost to escape such fate, yet in the end she has to give in and is married to Husam, a cold and calculating business partner of her family. While both young women are trying their best to find a way to escape, the business dealings with Crawford Enterprises in the United States are going strong, and Jason Crawford, the rather spoiled and self-centered son of the owner, is busy making more money for the family's business. The fates of those three people interlace in a most unlikely way, and through a series of surprising twists and turns the reader learns a lot about life in Saudi Arabia.
I've greatly enjoyed Homa Pourasgari's "The Dawn of Saudi" and I found her subject refreshing, well balanced and well researched. She does not preach the superiority of one religion over another, but rather points out the severe violations of human rights and the desperate plight of females in the Muslim society. She also manages to remind the reader of how lucky most of us are to be living where we are living, and how often we take our freedom for granted.  Her writing is fluid and expressive, her characters well fleshed out and the storyline extremely engaging.  If you like your romances contemporary, and if you don't mind learning something new while reading, "The Dawn of Saudi" will delight you. I also believe that it would make for a great pick for any book club that does not shy away from slightly political subjects.