New Phenomenon in Saudi Arabia: Book Signings

Author Samar Fatany at a previous event.

Today’s issue of Arab News shows two Saudi (women) authors at a Virgin Megastore in the Kingdom, diligently signing books for fans.

There were four women authors at the event: Journalist and social critic Samar Fatany (pictured left at a previous event),  Dr. Soad Jaber, a pediatrician, novelist, and author of children’s books, novelist Dr. Amal Shata, whose latest title is Always Love, and Etidal Etaiwi, who was signing both a poetry collection and an assemblage of folk tales.

The event was apparently organized by the newly founded Saudi Word Association.

According to novelist and association head Nabeela Mahjoub, “the association aims to promote cultural and intellectual discourse in Saudi society and support new talents.”

Of course, literature is not new to Saudi Arabia, and the peninsula has a long history of poetic expression. However, Dr. Amal Shata told Arab News that the book signing was unusual: “The idea of having a book-signing event, which is not very common in Saudi Arabia, is a good idea to promote a new literary work, especially that book marketing itself is a burgeoning field here.”

Also: Please note that very few of these women’s books seem to talk about sex (Saudi women can write about society and politics and folk tales and children and life?); apparently, these four are relatively immune to the great Tyranny.

Have I mentioned lately that I think it’s high time for Banipal to do an issue on new writing in the KSA?