Universal Elements in Saudi Novel: A Study of Al-Gosaibi’s “Freedom Apartment” and Alem’s “The Dove’s Necklace”

Ahmed Mohamed Aboud, Mohammed Abdulmalik Ali


In spite of the short history of the Saudi fiction, compared with the genre of poetry and with the rise of novel in other Arab countries like Egypt, Lebanon and Iraqi, Saudi novelists start to occupy a remarkable part of the space of Arab narration. Although Saudi novelists face the challenge of a restrictive cultural milieu, they seek to go beyond the local and regional levels and maintain a real significant universal presence. This study is a critical reaction to an outstanding attitude that colors the reception of Saudi fictional works. In reading of Saudi narrative texts readers, critics and scholars obviously focus on the local and regional aspects, and consciously or unconsciously ignore the universal perspectives that characterize their thematic and technical concerns. The study, accordingly, explores the world of Saudi fiction, concentrating on the question of universality, a concern which has been and will remain a core issue of critical and scholarly controversy. With reference to selected works, the study is an attempt to shed light on the universal aspects in Saudi novel. The basic and core premise of the study, then, is that the production of some Saudi novelists is rich in universal elements.  The study concentrates on Gazi Al-Gosaibi (1940 – 2010) and Rajaa Alem  (1956 – present) as writers representing the search for universality in Saudi novel. Al-Gosaibi’s Freedom Apartment (1994) and Alem’s The Doves’ Necklace (2010) are works rich in persistent universal narrative themes and images. The main objective of the study is to show how these two texts, like many others, incarnate and present both Saudi culture and universal human values. With reference to these two novels, the researchers seek to prove the reliability of the main premise of the study.

Keywords: Challenge Saudi novel, Universal elements of novel, Human values, Culture, Comparative literature

Full Text:



Abrams, M. H. (1993). Glossary of Literary Terms. London: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Al-Deeb, S. (2012). “Gazi Algosaibi, 70, dies, poet, author and Saudi Arabian Cabinet Member”. The Washington Post. Agust16: 2.

Al-Gosaibi, G. (1996). An Apartment Called Freedom. A Novel. London: Kegan Paul.

Al-Abdullah, S. (2013). Manifestations ofModernityin ContemporarySaudi Novel. Riyadh: Dar Assaliheyah linnasher.

Al-Blaihi, H. (2006). Beauty of Place in the Saudi Drama. Adamam: Dar Al-Kifah Linnasher Wattawzie’.

Alem, R. (2012). The Doves’ Necklace. Casablanca: Al-Markaz Athaqafi Al-Arabi.

Al-Eslahi, H. (2011). Sociability in the Saudi Novel. Kuwait: Jadawel Annasher Wattawzie’.

Al-Gosaibi, Gh. (1999). Freedom Apartment. Beirut: Riyadh Arrayes Lilkutub Wattawzie’.

Al-Jamaan, S. (2013). Women'sSpeech and Its Transformations in the Saudi Novel. Riyadh: Annadi Al-Adabi.

Al-Mahadin, A. (2001). Dialectic ofSpace, Timeand Manin the Gulf Novel. Beirut: Al-Muassaeh Al-Arabiyah Liddirasat Wannasher.

Al-Manasrah, H. (2010). GlareNarrative.Approachesin the Saudi Narrative Discourse. Irbid: Alam Al-Kutub Al-Hadeeth.

Al-Odwani, M. (2009). Writing and Discourse in the Novels of Rajaa Alem. Beirut: Alintishar Al-Arabi.

Al-Otaibi, F. (2009). FeministNarrativesin the Saudi Novel: Rajaa Alem as a Model. Riyadh: Dar Al-Mufradat Linnasher Wattawzie’.

Azem, I. (2012). “An Interview with Rajaa Alem”. Jadaliyya, December 14:1 –4.

Barnes, J. (1984). Complete Works of Aristotle. Trans. Water Edin. New York: Pinnceton University Press. Ref. to 1451.

Barthes, R. (1974). S / Z. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill & Wang. Reference to 1970.

Bray, J. (2003). Representations of Consciousness. London: Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group.

Burner, A. (2011). “Interview with Rajaa Alem”. Trans. Yousef Hegazi. Qantare de: 9 -12.

Davies, C. (2011). “Saudi Writer First Woman to Win Arabic Book Prize”. March 15- CNN.Com.http:// edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/03/15/Arabic.Literary.Prize/

Fitzgerald, S. (2014). Quoteshttp:// www .goodreads.com/ author / show / 3190._ Scott _ Fitzegerald.

Golding, W. (1964). The Spire. London: Faber & Faber.

Hegel, G. W. (1953). Philosophy of Right. Part 3. Civi Society. London: Oxford University Press.

http://Theculturetrip: com / middle – east / Saudi Arabia / articles / - lifting.

Kaven, De M. (1988). “Truma and Recovery in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway” Modern Fiction Studies. 44. 3: 649 – 66.

Kelsall, K. (2014) “Lifting the Veil: Three Influential Saudi Novelists”.

Lodge, D.. Ed. (1986). 20th Century Literary Criticism. London: Longman Group Ltd.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Ed. Michael Hoquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Hoquist. New York: University of Texas Press.

Malcolm, B. (1972). The Social Context of Modern Literature. London: Basil Black-Well.

Moraru. Ch. (1993). “Reading the Other, Reading Other Readings, Bakhtin, Willa Cather, and the Dialogicsof Critical Response. 209–244. Conference Lubbock, TX

Patterson, D. (1985). “Mikhail Bakhtin and Dialogical Dimensions of the Novel. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

Siegle, R. (1984). “Capote’s Handicarved Coffins and the Nonfiction Novel”. Contemporary Literature. 25. 4: 437 – 451.

Thornley, G. C. (1968). An Outline of English Literature. London: Longman Group Ltd.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.