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Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Readers disappointed by 'The Almond' would be better served by Al Neimi's... 'The Proof of the Honey,' also narrated by a woman who dwells on sensual pleasures"

Date: May 13 2009

In 2005, "The Almond," by Nedjma, gained attention for the way its narrator's voracious sexual appetite formed a feminist response to her oppressive society. The book offered an unveiled roar, but it also read like bad pornography.

Readers disappointed by "The Almond" would be better served by Al Neimi's novel. Translated from Arabic by Carol Perkins, "The Proof of the Honey" is also narrated by a woman who dwells on sensual pleasures, a self-taught scholar of ancient Arab erotic texts. As she prepares an academic paper on her subject, she recounts her sexual awakening and its ties to her desire for truth and discovery.

Where Nedjma seemingly portrayed an iconoclast, Al Neimi's unnamed narrator explains that every Arab city is filled with such stories: "Stories of the kind you wouldn't suspect in this world of taqiyya, of dissimulation, where people have learned to live their sexuality, as with other dangerous domains in their lives, with pious duplicity."

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