December 1, 2009
… Seba Al-Herz’s prose is as sweet and dense as a mouthful of dates. It overpowers at first, but once you find its underlying rhythm, it carries you on a wave of sensuality. I tried to pick out a representative passage but they all sounded incomplete out of context, needing what came before and after to reveal the beauty of their complexity. If, at times, the structure is a bit awkward, I put that down to translation difficulties. It couldn’t have been easy to render the original Arabic to English.
The translator comes into his own in the afterword, whose commentary puts The Others into social, sexual and political context and explains why the overriding theme of excommunication and isolation is so important in the novel as well as in Shi’a society. But that sounds dull in a way the book is not. The Others is a sumptuous feast of a read, challenging but well worth the time and thought.
We can not disagree: get a copy of The Others today and see for yourself.