What We Are Reading Today: The Critical Case of K

Updated 09 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Critical Case of K

This engaging novel in Arabic by Aziz Mohammed, a Saudi author and blogger from Alkhobar, tells the story of a lonely, melancholic person who defends his individuality against a social and economic system that threatens to overwhelm him.

The protagonist, who is frustrated by his limited abilities and is determined to protect his privacy, receives news that turns his life upside down.

He falls ill with leukemia and struggles with his family and work environment.

Although the author does not specify the society or country where the novel is set, the story could be based on the life of an ordinary young employee at an oil company in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia.

The novel is written in a diary format — after reading Kafka, "K" decides to write a diary, too — with the protagonist recording his daily battles with life in a  sarcastic voice.

The narrative flows smoothly, and the writing style follows a simple sentence structure and vocabulary choice.

Relationships have neither real value nor influence in the story. "K" is a lonely man who makes little effort to end his isolation — and that makes his story interesting and touching.

The novel, published by Lebanon's Dar Al-Tanweer, is 31-year-old Mohammed's first published novel. It was on the shortlist for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Booker).


Camel racing: An Arabian sport loved by the region’s people

Updated 14 August 2018
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Camel racing: An Arabian sport loved by the region’s people

  • Camel racing is among the most famous traditional sports in the Arab world
  • The camels that take part in races are known as “Thaluls” in Arabic

RIYADH: Camel racing is among the most famous traditional sports in the Arab world, which even dates back to the pre-Islamic era, when tribes organized the races to show off the strong camels they owned.
The races continued during the subsequent Islamic era, promoting the practicing of equestrian sports and bravery.
Prophet Muhammad’s companions were known for camel racing.
The camels that take part in races are known as “thaluls” in Arabic, or riding camels.
Among the most famous ones are: Thalul Al-Hurra (aka The Free Camel), as well as those from central and northern the Arabian Peninsula, such as Aseela, from the Thalul Al-Hurra breed, and the Omani Thaluls, known for being a graceful, slim and noble type of camels.
And the Sudanese Thaluls, which are known for the strength and patience and adapting to the challenging desert conditions.
The camels are known for their tolerance to thirst and traveling longer distances than horses.
Though camels are slightly slower than horses, some types of camels have traveled distances on speed that exceeds those of horses, as good camels can travel 40 kilometers continuously in one hour.
Good racing camels are known for specific characteristics that distinguish them from other camels, such as light weight, small palms, large chest size, long legs and long tail.
Racing camels undergo a special diet to help them get rid of excess fats, and the most important foods they feed on are dates, milk, honey, dry grass and corn.