Romances of Al-A’sha Street


Publishing House: Al-Saqi

Publication Year: 2013

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 288

“Romances of Al-A’sha Street” is a novel by Saudi author Badriah Albeshr, published by Dar Al-Saqi in 2013. The book spans 288 pages and was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (commonly known as the Arabic Booker) in 2014.

The novel “Romances of Al-A’sha Street” takes us back to the 1970s through the stories of the residents of Al-A’sha Street in Riyadh. It primarily narrates three stories, the first of which centers on the protagonist Aziza, who is enamored with Egyptian films and the lives of Egyptian actresses. Through her story, we are introduced to the tales of the street’s women. Aziza searches for love in the manner of Soad Hosny in the film “Al-Safira Aziza,” and falls in love with an Egyptian doctor named Ahmed. She contemplates running away with him but faces a danger greater than escape: the loss of her soul.

The second story is about Wadha, a Bedouin woman who escapes poverty by working in the women’s market, eventually becoming its most prominent merchant. Her journey involves her daughters, Jaziya and Muzna, and her sons, Mutaib and Dhari. The third story follows Atwa (also known as Atiya), who flees her village and erases her femininity in order to survive, only to discover that she is still a woman capable of rebirth. She finds herself starting anew in the vibrant life of Riyadh, far from her small village.

The events of the novel “Romances of Al-A’sha Street” reveal the stories of women who are oppressed and searching for their freedom within a conservative society. However, over time, this quest turns into heightened rigidity, ultimately ending their journey of seeking escape.

In the novel “Romances of Al-A’sha Street,” we discover through the eyes and stories of women, particularly Aziza, how Saudi society has changed over the years. The work addresses numerous challenging issues within Saudi society in a seamless manner that compels the reader to empathize with the stories of the novel’s protagonists. These women, for the most part, do not find the love or life they desire, with only a few exceptions.

Through the women’s stories, we see the social history of an important period in Saudi Arabia’s development. The narratives reveal how society was and how it has changed. The novel illustrates the Saudi community during the era chosen by Badriya Al-Bishr, highlighting the impact of intellectual and religious changes on society and its individuals. These changes significantly influenced the treatment and perception of Saudi women.

Read More About Badriah Albeshr

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