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Publishers Weekly: "the narrator’s description of her sexual awakening with the Thinker delivers sensationally beautiful erotic moments, revealing a skillful, enticing voice from the Arab world."

Date: Feb 26 2009

An Arab-French writer explores in sensuous hindsight the life-changing nature of a passionate affair.

Al Neimi’s first person narrator, a scholar of Arab literature, works as a university librarian in Paris, where her discovery of erotic Arabic texts rekindles the memory of an explosive earlier affair with a man she calls the Thinker. The narrator delights in her secret textual discoveries (“Arabic, for me, is the language of sex,” she writes),which underscore the repression of women, on the one hand, while celebrating the healthful, God-given nature of coition, on the other. Parallel to her research, she prods her female friends for tales of sexual exploits and muses on her own upbringing, when the silence and ignorance surrounding sex fueled her desire for greater knowledge. Despite the novel’s somewhat disorienting structure, the narrator’s description of her sexual awakening with the Thinker delivers sensationally beautiful erotic moments, revealing a skillful, enticing voice from the Arab world.

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