Fiction in Translation
English edition  
128 pp.
12.5X20 cm
ISBN 9789774165665
For sale worldwide


Life on Hold

A Saudi Arabian Novel Fahd al-Atiq
Translated by Jonathan Wright

A look inside life in Riyadh, where a family grapples with the dichotomies of modern society, where affluence does not necessarily bring with it fulfillment and happiness

Riyadh is a city of masks, a city “like a pressure cooker that’s about to explode,” a city that sleeps on a pile of words that no one dares utter. Saudi society has split into two camps, one adopting the slogan that God is strict in punishment, the other that God is merciful and forgiving. In the background the media trumpets that everything is perfect. Saudi writer Fahd al-Atiq explores this world through the character of Khaled, whose dysfunctional life, humdrum but rich in memories and introspection, bridges the gap between the old impoverished world of Najd and the consumerism of the years after the various oil booms, symbolized in this novel by the family’s move from the lively back streets of the old city to an isolated dream villa in the new suburbs, where their dreams are never quite fulfilled and their lives remain permanently ‘on hold.’
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Fahd al-Atiq was born and lives in Saudi Arabia. He is the author of five collections of short stories and two novels. Life on Hold is his first book to appear in English. Translator of the winning novel in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and twice winner of the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, Jonathan Wright was formerly the Reuters bureau chief in Cairo. He has translated Alaa Al-Aswany, Youssef Ziedan, and Hassan Blassim. He lives in London, UK.

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"Fahd AL-Atiq has captured the soul of Riyadh and he excels in describing both, the cityʼs elusive atmosphere and life in the old days."—Lisa Kaaki, Arab News

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