Hend and the Soldiers

Publishing House: CMES Modern Middle East Literatures in Translation

Publication Year: 2017

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 208

“Hend and the Soldiers,” authored by Badriah Albeshr, is a poignant narrative that explores the life of Hend, a young woman from Saudi Arabia who is on a quest to defy the conservative norms of her society. The novel paints a vivid picture of her struggles against both literal and metaphorical ‘soldiers’ in her life. Following an unsuccessful arranged marriage to an army officer, Hend aspires to carve out her identity as a writer and seeks autonomy in her romantic life. However, her mother, a staunch advocate of traditional societal values, actively opposes her endeavors.

The narrative unfolds through the lens of Hend’s interactions with her mother, revealing the deep-rooted suffering that women in her family, and by extension in the wider patriarchal society, have historically endured. Through these stories, the novel sheds light on the painful legacies borne by previous generations of women. As the plot advances, Hend gains a deeper understanding of the impact these rigid traditions have had not only on women but also on the men in her family. This includes one brother who escapes to the West in search of freedom and another who finds a sense of belonging among the ranks of al-Qaeda.

Albeshr’s work is significant in its bold approach to addressing controversial subjects such as religion and sexuality, topics often considered taboo in the context of Arabian Peninsula literature. “Hend and the Soldiers” offers a valuable perspective for readers seeking to comprehend the intricacies of these issues within a complex societal framework.

The narrative metaphorically compares the women’s stories to coffee cups, each holding its unique tale. These stories, born in the bitterness of their experiences and akin to the bitter coffee they consume, serve as a form of solace and healing from the hardships they face. Each woman’s story is likened to a long cardamom pod, encapsulating her personal experiences and struggles. This vivid imagery underscores the importance of storytelling as a means of resilience and survival in the face of societal challenges.

Read More About Badriah Albeshr

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