Far more than an erotic novel, The Proof of the Honey is a surprising and illuminating voyage into the history of Arabic literature. Borrowing inspiration from The Thousand and One Nights, erudite asides are woven into the fabric of the protagonist's story and the stories of her lovers. Affirming that "Arabic is the language of sex," and making desire the source of her own personal liberty, Al Neimi has written a stirring novel about the place afforded sex in modern Arabic society and its relationship to the long, rich tradition of Arabic erotica.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 44.
- Review Date: 2009-03-02
- Reviewer: Staff
An Arab-French writer explores in sensuous hindsight the life-changing nature of a passionate affair. Al Neimi’s first-person narrator, a scholar of Arab literature, works as a university librarian in Paris, where her discovery of erotic Arabic texts rekindles the memory of an explosive earlier affair with a man she calls the Thinker. The narrator delights in her secret textual discoveries (“Arabic, for me, is the language of sex,” she writes), which underscore the repression of women, on the one hand, while celebrating the healthful, God-given nature of coition, on the other. Parallel to her research, she prods her female friends for tales of sexual exploits and muses on her own upbringing, when the silence and ignorance surrounding sex fueled her desire for greater knowledge. Despite the novel’s somewhat disorienting structure, the narrator’s description of her sexual awakening with the Thinker delivers sensationally beautiful erotic moments, revealing a skillful, enticing voice from the Arab world. (May)