Donna Abu-Nasr of the AP, in The Boston Globe:
It’s hardly ”Sex and the City,” but by Saudi standards ”The Girls of Riyadh” is a bombshell.
The fictional tale of the loves, dreams, and disappointments of four young women in the capital has, not surprisingly, drawn criticism in a country where women are not supposed to date or have a love life until married. More striking, however, is the degree of support being voiced for 24-year-old author Rajaa al-Sanie and her first novel.
In the novel, Sadeem’s husband divorces her because she’s too sexually bold for his liking. Qamra discovers soon after her wedding that her husband is in love with a Japanese woman. Mashael’s boyfriend cannot marry her because her mother is American. Only Lamis finds true and lasting love.
”The Girls of Riyadh” was published in September in Lebanon, the most liberal of Arab countries, and is going into its third printing. In Saudi Arabia, where the sexes are strictly segregated, authorities haven’t decided whether to approve its sale, but pirated editions are circulating in photocopy form.