This story was written by M. Lynx Qualey and originally appeared at Arabic Literature (in English).
Al Jazeera reports that the cultural pages of Gulf newspapers are brimming with talk about sex. Or, rather, they’re brimming with talk about talk about sex.
This is because sex has been a growing phenomenon in Saudi literature. Earlier this year, noted Kuwaiti novelist Laila al-Othman decried the increase in sexual content in Saudi women’s lit. Al-Othman, whose Wasmiya Comes Out of the Sea was one of the Arab Writers Union’s “top 105,” is apparently not wrong to point to an increase. According to Al Jazeera, a Gulf organization’s study noted that in 2007 there were 55 Saudi novels dealing with sex, in 2008 64 novels, and last year about 70.
Not exactly an erotic book in every pot. But, sure, it’s something.
The writers being blamed for this phenomenon are mostly women. The Al Jazeera piece mentions Others, by Siba al-Harz (a pen name), Love in the Captial, by Wafaa’ Abdel Rahman, Zaynab Hanafi’s Features and Immoral Women, by Samar al-Muqrin. Youssef al-Mohaimmeed, who sometimes writes from the point of view of a woman, also made the list of sexy writers with his Pigeons Don’t Fly in Buraydah.
Cultural critic Mohamed Al-Menkeri told Al Jazeera that it’s “regrettable that some people think sex is the most important component” of this conservative society, and don’t look to issues like the search for religious freedom, class divisions, educational failures, or gender.