A Review of Motorbikes and Camels

by Nejoud Al-Yagout

I had the great pleasure and privilege of reading and reviewing Nejoud Al-Yagout’s collection of intensely perceptive and inspiring articles: Arise Here, Now. Recognizing at that time a literary marvel of a writer, I was most pleased and eager to read her new fictional work: Motorbikes and Camels. My original assessment stands: Nejoud Al-Yagout is a marvelous and perceptive writer. One of her most artful skills is to write extremely clean, concise sentences that reveal much more than the number of words used to create them. This is writing at its best. Not necessarily poetic in style, but certainly poetic in economy; in choosing a few specific, perfect words to convey an expanded world of meaning; done with such un-self-consciousness as to make the reader wonder how he knows so much from apparently so little said. Using this technique with masterful skill, Ms. Al-Yagout puts you firmly in the mind of one flimsy teenage girl, inside the head of one shallow privileged man, and makes you realize the issues they deal with are neither flimsy nor shallow.

There are additional characters, relationships, and issues featured in Nejoud Al-Yagout’s cultural-revealing gem, Motorbikes and Camels, interwoven and interlinked and voiced by each character’s own perspective in sequential turn, lending the viewpoint of a multi-prismed focus to an ancient society’s struggling transition from old to new, from ancestrally-scripted to modern freedom and indulgence. A complex brew of depth, discrepancy, and deeds, written with disarming simplicity by a skilled writer claiming her rightful place of preeminence in an over-burdened, over-populated field.