- Crime & Thriller
The paperback of this stunningly powerful and acclaimed prize-winning novel from a unique voice in Arabic literature.
Mu’az, the photographer’s apprentice, was leaping between two roofs when he froze in mid-air, transfixed by what he saw below. Deep in the cleft between the two houses was the body.
In Mecca’s ‘Lane of Many Heads’ lies the unclothed body of a murdered woman. Nobody claims the victim: her nudity is a source of shame in the Holy City’s strictly conservative culture. When the cholesterol-riddled and sleep-deprived detective Nasser al-Qahtani takes charge of the investigation, he is soon confronted by some of Mecca’s darkest secrets – by its corruption, poverty, misogyny and rampant greed.
Never once shying away from taboos, Raja Alem effortlessly intertwines myth, fantasy and everyday reality to evoke the rich mosaic of Meccan life to tell the story of a civilisation torn between dogmatic conservatism and the desire to modernise. Narrated by several different voices – including two headstrong women and the ‘Lane of Many Heads’ itself – The Dove’s Necklace is a beautiful, powerful novel which challenges false preconceptions of the Arab world, and conjures up a compelling portrait of a city and its people in the throes of change.
‘A surreal and meditative take on a murder mystery’ Deborah Smith, Guardian summer reads
‘Masterly crafted and perfectly paced… an intense, nearspiritual experience’ Chicago Review of Books
‘Raja’s Mecca is a place of sincerity and deception, wealth and poverty, architectural beauty and ugliness, whispers of the past and the assault of the future’ Jury of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction
'Alem is an accomplished author... Her winning novel reclaims a past Mecca and is told in a high, historic-folkloric tone' The Guardian
'Raja Alem's reputation in contemporary Arabic literature [is] similar to Nabokov's in ours: masterful, erudite, witty, and somewhat dangerous' BOMB
'Evokes hauntingly the twisted alleyways of the ancient quarters... accomplished... tantalising’ TLS