March 5, 2024

“Saliha’s Camel”: Love and War from History to Legend

Saleha's Camel Review

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In a tale of impossible love and a narrative that may seem traditional on the surface within our Arab societies, Kuwaiti writer Saud Al-Sanaousi wagers to astonish the reader and create a state of bewilderment after finishing his fifth novel, “Saliha’s Camel, published by “Arab Scientific Publishers” in Beirut. Is it a novel based on real events and characters? What can we do about our modern dreams? How do we live after losing our loved ones? A cascade of questions will shower you as you read this novel.

Journey to Pre-State Establishment

Through his novel, Saud Al-Sanaousi takes us on a journey to the Kuwaiti desert before the establishment of the modern state on the Arabian Peninsula. The events of the novel begin in 1941, taking us back to the origin of the story at the beginning of the twentieth century. It explores the wars waged by Abdulaziz Al Saud after his alliance with Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah against Abdulaziz Al Rashid, specifically the Battle of Sareef in 1901. “Saliha’s Camel” cannot be considered a typical historical novel; it doesn’t use historical events and circumstances as the main driver of the narrative but employs history as a backdrop and general framework for the novel’s events. The story revolves around “Dakhil bin Asmar,” who seeks refuge in the Emirate of Kuwait after writing a poem mocking the sheikh of the “Al Mahrous” tribe, who married his son “Salih” to “Saliha Al Mahrous,” his cousin whom “Dakhil” deeply loved. However, customs and traditions prevent their marriage, and he finds himself in a dilemma after Kuwait declares war against his tribe. We witness a chapter of loyalty and the suffering of loss.

“Kuwait, the exile of strangers and the land of new births at the head of the Gulf. Although our tribe faced hostility in those times, who knows? All I need is a new name, simulating a hybrid accent, adjusting the tilt of the headscarf on my head, and leaving the tilt of luck to that town; maybe it will find in it someone to support.”

The Charm of the Bedouin Environment

Despite the exploration of many literary works depicting the desert and nomadic life, the novel “Saliha’s Camel” has crafted a unique world and conveyed a more profound image of the desert environment and the intricacies of Bedouin life in the early twentieth century. This is evident from the author’s use of ancient and neglected Bedouin terms, popular and traditional examples, and the portrayal of a poetic image of living in the desert. The novel also engages in a meticulous psychological analysis of the characters and their internal conflicts.

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