Life on Hold
, by: Fahd Al-Atiq, Cairo: AUC Press, 2012. 128pp.
AUC press has just released an English translation of the Saudi Novel Life on Hold by the Saudi novelist Fahd Al-Atiq. The novel gives an inside look into life in the Saudi capital, Riyadh through a famiy's grappling with the dichotomies of modern society. The writer demonstrates that 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, symbolised 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."