Foreign Writes to Cover the Globe
So glad to be home, up and about, and ready to carry on with Foreign Writes. In not too long Foreign Writes will go world-wide – you’ll be treated to guest posts showcasing terrific writers whose overseas experiences have had an impact on their lives and writing.
Some things are on the move, albeit slowly, in The Kingdom. A week ago hundreds of women braved an official injunction and DROVE. Although several were harassed, it appears there were no arrests this time, a change from a similar demonstration in 2011. Have a look and check out the thumbs up. http://youtu.be/k4tP6Hr4A1o
In another hopeful sign, a female Saudi film maker, Haifa Al Mansour, was given permission to make the first feature length film shot in Saudi Arabia. ‘Wadjda’ features an all-Saudi cast (though she had a Saudi-German crew) and tells the story of a young Saudi girl pushing the limits of her freedom. In an interview on NPR, Haifa Al Mansour recounted the difficulty of directing a film via microphones from inside a van with tinted windows while wearing an abaya. Despite the official permission, she knew that her presence outside the van would draw crowds and probably the religious police. Here’s the link to her interview. http://www.npr.org/2013/09/22/224437165/wadjda-director-haifaa-al-mansour-it-is-time-to-open-up
I saw the film last night and was stunned by its realistic depiction of the middle-class Saudi world. In scenes from Wadjda’s school, home and daily life, the total attention Saudi society requires to any act that might provoke the attention of men, however unwanted, adds complication to each moment of this young girl’s day. Exhausting, just thinking about it. The film has received the highest praise at major film festivals (Venice/London). Make an effort to find a theater showing it!!!
During my ‘down’ time, I listened to a delightful book on CD “The Girls of Riyadh” by Rajaa Alsanea. In the form of emails posted to the internet over the period of a year, it relates the tribulations of four wealthy young Saudi women – particularly their struggles with the men who come in and out of their lives. The book’s frankness caused quite a major stir in the Arab world.
A couple of other books well worth a read are “In the Land of Invisible Women”, written by Quanta Ahmed a Muslim female surgeon of Pakistani/British background, recounting her two years working at a prestigious hospital in Riyadh. Very frank. For those curious about how this bizarre country came to be, you can’t go wrong with “The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Saud” by Robert Lacey.