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D-Donna (Italy): "The Proof of the Honey is a singular phenomenon, an exemplar of contemporary erotic literature from the Near East."

Date: Aug 2 2008

First published in Beirut, where it was immediately prohibited for sale to minors, welcomed in Maghreb and Abu Dhabi, but forbidden in other Arab countries, with particular venom in the author’s native Syria (where a popular national daily dubbed it the unreadable biography of a prostitute), The Proof of the Honey is a singular phenomenon, an exemplar of contemporary erotic literature from the Near East. Written in Arabic, already released in France, where was received favorably by critics an readers, The Proof of the Honey has now been sold to over a dozen countries. The author is a cultured Syrian woman, married and mother of two, who now resides in Paris and works at the Istitut du Monde Arabe….

…In The Proof of the Honey, traveling between Paris and Tunis, we accompany the protagonist as she evokes memories of her childhood in a Damascus of the 1960s, replete with Hammam, the ubiquitous scent of oranges, and charming old movie houses. We smile with her at the bemusing sexual bravado manifest in her generation’s obsession with Viagra and we witness the minutely organized adulterous affairs of her girlfriends.

In recent years, other erotic novels by female writers have reached us from Arab countries—notably The Almond by the pseudonymous Nedjma… What sets The Proof of the Honey apart is the boldness of the author’s affirmation that Arabic is “the language of sex,” and her wanting to bring to light the seductiveness buried in the language and those who speak it. Salwa Al Neimi does not dole out lessons. In this novel, she instead argues that in order to govern their own lives, both in and out of the bedroom, Arab women must begin to reclaim their language.

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