Under a relentless summer sun, the Jeddah streets are a scene from an old black and white movie: the women dressed like long dark shadows and the men in their light cotton robes. 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 the carwash job that he's lucky to have. During his spare time, he sits underneath his favorite palm tree, writing to his mother he has left behind in Africa, or daydreaming about the glamorous girlfriend he hopes to have one day. But it's hard to imagine her in this country that puts up so many barriers between men and women: walls in the mosques, divider panels in the buses, separate quarters in the houses and veils on the streets. Naser feels trapped, by this closed Muslim society and by the religious police who keep watch through the shaded windows of their government jeeps. A splash of color arrives in Naser's world when, unexpectedly, a small piece of paper is dropped at his feet. It is a love note from a girl 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. Naser and the girl begin to exchange letters, and then to meet. Intense joy is mixed with moments of doubt and fear as Naser is led into a strange relationship of blossoming love and thwarted desire, fraught with danger. Relationships between unmarried men and women are strictly illegal under the Wahhabist Islam of Saudi state rule. It is not long before Naser's very real though illicit love affair must face the hardest test of all.
"...an affecting, gripping, devastating portrait of the claustrophobic, corrupt and insanely inhuman world of Saudi Arabia." (Daily Mail, John Harding)
"The details of life in Jeddah... and the sense of barely contained passion are compelling." (Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times)
"A dark and evocative testament to desire in an inhumane state." (Aleb Idil, The Independent)
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