The Dove's Necklace (PB) By: Raja Alem
Mu’az, the photographer’s apprentice, was leaping between two roofs when he froze in mid-air, transfixed by what he saw below. Deep in the cleft between the two houses was the body. In Mecca’s ‘Lane of Many Heads’ lies the unclothed body of a murdered woman. Nobody claims the victim: her nudity is a source of shame in the Holy City’s strictly conservative culture. When the cholesterol-riddled and sleep-deprived detective Nasser al-Qahtani takes charge of the investigation, he is soon confronted by some of Mecca’s darkest secrets – by its corruption, poverty, misogyny and rampant greed.
Never once shying away from taboos, Raja Alem effortlessly intertwines myth, fantasy and everyday reality to evoke the rich mosaic of Meccan life to tell the story of a civilisation torn between dogmatic conservatism and the desire to modernise. Narrated by several different voices – including two headstrong women and the ‘Lane of Many Heads’ itself – The Dove's Necklace is a beautiful, powerful novel which challenges false preconceptions of the Arab world, and conjures up a compelling portrait of a city and its people in the throes of change.
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