Publishing House: Dar Athar

Publication Year: 2013

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 400

“Doubt” by Saudi author Bader Al Samari is a robust narrative work that reflects his extensive knowledge of global narrative worlds. The novel displays his technical skill, presenting a unique life perspective with maintained ideological neutrality.

Set in a modern context with a postmodern narrative eye, the novel focuses on life in a Saudi Arabian village, subtly referencing the early development of modern Saudi Arabia in the 1970s, similar to Abdulaziz Al-Suqaybi’s “Seller of Pigeons,” which remains vivid in memory despite the time.

The title “Doubt,” reinforced on the cover by an (X), signifies negation while affirming presence and casting doubt on its validity and effectiveness. It hints at postmodern skepticism embodied by narrator Muteb Ibn Dheeban, who employs the second-person narrative “you.” Muteb attempts to unravel the past narratives of three main characters, with his search into his father’s enigmatic past and character forming a significant part of the narrative.

Navigating Contradictions in Saudi Society Through Intriguing Characters in ‘Dheeban’s Narrative

Dheeban, around whom the narrative largely revolves, is a figure of doubt and suspicion. He is the pivot of the story, which the narrator tries to decipher. The narrator’s connection to the characters, as a son of the desert community and a friend of Dheeban’s sons, adds depth and warmth to his portrayal of them. He talks about them with intimacy and understanding.

Mubarak, the modern intellectual bringing winds of change to the village, faces initial resistance. His foreign upbringing, marked by his dark skin, symbolizes a past of slavery, and encounters subtle rejection. The village accepts and embraces Mubarak, portraying a cultural clash between enlightenment and tradition.

Dheeban is a complex character, embodying contradictions that make him intriguing and evoke sympathy towards the end of the story. His character reflects the postmodern condition, where individuals often embody contradictions. Dheeban’s inability to adapt, living in self-imposed exile, signifies his traditionalism and ultimate isolation.

The novel’s exploration of these characters presents a compelling study of a society transitioning from traditionalism to modernity. It addresses themes of cultural identity, progress, and the enduring power of the past in shaping individuals’ lives. “Doubt” stands as a reflection of the evolving Saudi society, weaving a narrative that is both deeply personal and universally resonant.

Read More About Bader Al Samari

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