Featured Reading Guide
Under the hot sun, the Jeddah streets make a scene from an old black-and-white movie: the women dressed like long, dark shadows and the men in their light cotton tunics. Naser s friends have all left town for cooler climes but he can t get away: he s an outsider in Saudi and he needs to hold down his job at the local carwash. During his time off, he sits beneath his favourite palm tree, writing to the mother he has left behind in Africa and yearning for the glamorous Egyptian actress he hopes to meet one day. It s hard to adjust to a world that puts up so many barriers between men and women: walls…
About the Book
Under the hot sun, the Jeddah streets make a scene from an old black-and-white movie: the women dressed like long, dark shadows and the men in their light cotton tunics. Naser s friends have all left town for cooler climes but he can t get away: he s an outsider in Saudi and he needs to hold down his job at the local carwash. During his time off, he sits beneath his favourite palm tree, writing to the mother he has left behind in Africa and yearning for the glamorous Egyptian actress he hopes to meet one day. It s hard to adjust to a world that puts up so many barriers between men and women: walls in the mosque, divider panels in the buses and veils on the street. Naser feels increasingly trapped, not least by the religious police who keep watch through the shaded windows of their government jeeps. A splash of colour arrives in Naser s world when, unexpectedly, a small piece of paper is dropped at his feet. It is a love note, from a woman whose face he has never seen and whose voice he has never heard. She tells him that she will wear a pair of pink shoes the next time she passes so that he can pick her out from the other women in their identical black abayas . Erotic tension runs high; Naser and his habibati begin to exchange letters. But in moments of doubt the pink shoes seem to lead him into a cul-de-sac of thwarted desire, fraught with danger. Relationships between unmarried men and women are illegal under the strict Wahhibism of Saudi state rule and it s not long before their real, but illicit, love must face the hardest test of alltop
Starting Points for Discussion
- ‘Jasim’s café was full of colour’. Sulaiman Addonia describes the café’s vibrancy in contrast to the stark monochrome of life in Jeddah. Do you think there were any positive aspects to Naser’s association with Jasim? Was your opinion of Jasmin changed by his final act towards Naser?
- Both Naser and Fiore feel compelled to submit to sexual abuse in the hope of furthering their quest for independence. Was Fiore’s decision inevitable?
- ‘I could not bear the searing heat and heavy silence in the empty streets of Jeddah during the holiday season.’ The still heat, the smell of the rubbish bins on Ba’da Al Nuzla, the eerie desertion of the Pleasure Palace all create a strong sense of place in The Consequences of Love. How does Addonia use this to reflect the themes he is exploring?
- Discuss the links between nationality and identity in this novel. How are they related and what issues do they create for the central characters?
- What are the obvious differences between the lifestyle of a Saudi woman and a woman living in the West? How does this affect the way Fiore thinks and her dreams for the future? Do you think that there are universal characteristics for a teenage girl or will Fiore’s life be entirely different to that of a Western teenager?
- In what ways does the book examine the constraints on men in the Saudi society? Look at the way men interact with women and each other, and the importance of family.
- Naser ‘falls in love’ with Fiore despite knowing only her pink shoes differentiate her from any other woman who might pass him in the street. How does Sulaiman Addonia play with the theme of love? Is Nasser forced by the constraints of society to fall in love with the idea of love? Or does he really fall in love with Fiore?
- In what ways is Naser a victim of the consequences of love even before he meets Fiore?
- The Consequences of Love presents characters searching for a sense of belonging. Discuss Basil’s actions in the light of this theme.
- Despite presenting a society which is considered highly repressive of women, in what ways is The Consequences of Love a book about the power of women?
- The novel ends on a note of hope that Naser and Fiore may be reunited. Did you feel optimistic that they could establish a life together?
Other Books by Sulaiman Addonia
The Consequences of Love
Under the hot sun, the Jeddah streets make a scene from an old black-and-white…
Suggested Further Reading
- Girls of Riyadh ~ Rajaa Alsanea
- Swallows of Kabul ~ Yasmina Khadra
- A Thousand Splendid Suns ~ Khaled Hosseini
- Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis ~ John R. Bradley
- In the Land of Invisible Women ~ Qanta Ahmed
- Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women ~ Geraldine Brooks