Where Pigeons Don’t Fly

Where Pigeons Don’t Fly

Publishing House: Bloomsbury USA

Publication Year: 2015

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 396

“Where Pigeons Don’t Fly,” by Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, is a bold and provocative novel that delves into the complex and often taboo subject of male-female relationships within the confines of Saudi Arabia’s conservative society. The story is set against the backdrop of Riyadh, where the ‘Committee for VVirtueexerts its influence by monitoring and controlling the interactions of young, unmarried couples. This novel paints a vivid picture of the societal and cultural constraints that stifle genuine expressions of love, often leading to severe consequences such as imprisonment or exile.

The narrative centers around Fahd, tracing his journey from a troubled childhood into adulthood. Fahd’s early life is marred by the dark shadow of his father’s involvement in the attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Growing up in an ultra-conservative environment, Fahd becomes an artist and critic, finding himself constantly at odds with the restrictive cultural and religious norms of his society. His work and personal life, especially his relationship with his girlfriend, are constrained by these oppressive forces. The turning point in Fahd’s life occurs when he and his girlfriend are apprehended by the virtue police, leading him to contemplate a life of self-imposed exile in Britain, away from a homeland where he feels alienated and suppressed.

Confronting Taboos and Challenging Norms in ‘Where Pigeons Don’t Fly

Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, through “Where Pigeons Don’t Fly,” courageously tackles some of the Arab world’s most contentious issues. His writing style, rich and evocative, has been compared to that of Gabriel García Márquez by The Washington Post. Renowned authors like Annie Proulx and Hanan al-Shaykh have recognized Al-Mohaimeed as a significant and authentic voice emerging from Saudi Arabia. Proulx, known for “Brokeback Mountain,” heralds him as a rising star in international literature, while al-Shaykh, author of “Women of Sand and Myrrh,” acknowledges the authenticity of his voice.

“Where Pigeons Don’t Fly” stands as a testament to Al-Mohaimeed’s skill as a storyteller, capable of weaving a narrative that confronts repressive societal norms and the struggle for personal freedom and identity. It is a story of love and taboo, offering a deep insight into the lives affected by the stringent rules governing male-female interactions in Saudi Arabia.

Yousef Al-Mohaimeed is an award-winning writer and journalist. His literary works, including several novels and short story collections, have been published in Arabic and translated into multiple languages such as English, Russian, Spanish, and German. This novel has been translated by Robin Moger, known for translating “A Dog With No Tail” by Hamdi Abu Golayyel and contributing to the anthology “Beirut39: New Writing from the Arab World.”

Read More About Yousef Al-Mohaimeed

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