The Consequences of Love, By Sulaiman Addonia

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The Independent Culture

As a corrective to Rajaa Alsanea's recent novel Girls of Riyadh, Sulaiman Addonia's affecting debut provides a glitz-free version of romance, Saudi Arabian-style. It's the summer of 1989 and Nasser, a 20-year-old refugee from Eritrea, fritters away his days dreaming of his lost mother.

The women of Jeddah – untouchable, shrouded figures – can offer little in the way of comfort. Then one day Nasser's luck changes when a girl, wearing bright pink shoes, drops a love letter at his feet.

So begins a courtly love affair carefully conducted out of view of the religious police, and just yards away from Punishment Square. Medievalism and modernity collide in this tender-hearted and reader-friendly first novel.

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