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The Proof of the Honey
     

The Proof of the Honey

4.0 1
by Salwa Al Neimi
 

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A bestseller throughout the Arab world, a tribute to sex, eroticism, language and liberty, The Proof of the Honey is a superb celebration of female pleasure. A Syrian scholar working in Paris is invited to contribute to a conference on the subject of classic erotic literature in Arabic. The invitation provides occasion for her to evoke memories from her own

Overview

A bestseller throughout the Arab world, a tribute to sex, eroticism, language and liberty, The Proof of the Honey is a superb celebration of female pleasure. A Syrian scholar working in Paris is invited to contribute to a conference on the subject of classic erotic literature in Arabic. The invitation provides occasion for her to evoke memories from her own life, to exult in her personal liberty, her lovers, her desires, and to revisit moments of shared intimacy with other women as they discuss life, love, and sexual desire.

Far more than an erotic novel, The Proof of the Honey is a surprising and illuminating voyage into the history of Arabic literature. Borrowing inspiration from The Thousand and One Nights, erudite asides are woven into the fabric of the protagonist's story and the stories of her lovers. Affirming that "Arabic is the language of sex," and making desire the source of her own personal liberty, Al Neimi has written a stirring novel about the place afforded sex in modern Arabic society and its relationship to the long, rich tradition of Arabic erotica.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

An Arab-French writer explores in sensuous hindsight the life-changing nature of a passionate affair. Al Neimi's first-person narrator, a scholar of Arab literature, works as a university librarian in Paris, where her discovery of erotic Arabic texts rekindles the memory of an explosive earlier affair with a man she calls the Thinker. The narrator delights in her secret textual discoveries ("Arabic, for me, is the language of sex," she writes), which underscore the repression of women, on the one hand, while celebrating the healthful, God-given nature of coition, on the other. Parallel to her research, she prods her female friends for tales of sexual exploits and muses on her own upbringing, when the silence and ignorance surrounding sex fueled her desire for greater knowledge. Despite the novel's somewhat disorienting structure, the narrator's description of her sexual awakening with the Thinker delivers sensationally beautiful erotic moments, revealing a skillful, enticing voice from the Arab world. (May)

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Le Nouvel Observateur

An unprecedented success throughout the Arab world.

Al Jazeera

Salwa Al Neimi [is] the most audacious among contemporary Arab novelists.

Reuters

Al Neimi announces the end of a taboo in the Arab world: that of sex!

L'intelligent

Employing an elegant and graceful line of argument—that if the act of sex is legitimate than all words used to describe the act can be no less so—this compelling novel renders homage to both love and language.

Library Journal

In this seemingly autobiographical narrative, Al Neimi mines the depths of Arabic literature in an attempt to revive the forgotten language of sexuality. Her purpose is to show the subtle tension that exists between today's conservative Arab and Middle Eastern cultures and their lascivious literary past. Al Neimi continually underscores her thesis that Arabic is the language of sex by referencing the works of Ahmad ibn Yahya, Ali al-Katibi, and al-Tijani. The anonymous narrator, who works as a librarian, is asked to compile and give a presentation on classical Arab erotica. While uncovering the sensuality of classical Arabic literature, she unlocks her own hidden sensuality through purely sexual relationships. In the novel, the continual oscillation between classical texts and modern society produces humorous chapters dealing with both Viagra and Sex and the City. A best seller throughout the Arab world, this book will have wide appeal, particularly to readers of erotica, women's, studies and contemporary Arabic literature.
—Joshua Finnell

Kirkus Reviews
Already a slightly scandalous bestseller throughout the Arab world, this provocative novel makes its American debut. An unnamed Syrian narrator working in a Paris library develops a reputation as a specialist in antique Arabian erotica. An invitation to speak on this subject at a conference serves as a prompt for languorous and learned memories of her varied sexual experiences. Al Neimi exploits the tension between fundamentalist Islam, in which a woman's sexuality is strictly controlled, and classical Islam, in which female desire is a divine gift and the ecstasy of sex is a preview of paradise. Resurrecting lost treatises on lovemaking as she describes a heroine awakening to pleasure, the author gestures beyond the confines of her narrative to make a plea for a more liberated attitude toward sex in contemporary Arab society. It's a noble effort and, judging by the book's sales in Arabic, a welcome one. But activist sincerity does not necessarily make for compelling fiction, and this unimpeachably worthy tract is not much of a novel. Erudition can be erotic, but here the philosophical musings and graphic interludes are awkwardly conjoined: "First, a certain flash of eyes, then my reply, categorical. I feel my answer rising in the first instant, even before the suitor presents letters of accreditation for his lust." Perhaps it's a problem of translation, but lines like that just aren't very sexy. A distinctive but flawed entry in the annals of female sexual apologia.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609459741
Publisher:
Europa
Publication date:
04/28/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
1,146,441
File size:
443 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Yasmina Khadra

A wholesome, beautiful, generous book of incredible erudition. (Yasmina Khadra, author of The Attack)

From the Publisher
"Employing an elegant and graceful line of argument-that if the act of sex is legitimate than all words used to describe the act can be no less so-this compelling novel renders homage to both love and language."
-L'intelligent

"A wholesome, beautiful, generous book of incredible erudition."
-Yasmina Khadra, author of The Attack

"An unprecedented success throughout the Arab world."
-Le Nouvel Observateur

"Salwa Al Neimi [is] the most audacious among contemporary Arab novelists."
- Al Jazeera

"Al Neimi announces the end of a taboo in the Arab world: that of sex!"

- Reuters

Meet the Author

Salwa Al Neimi was born in Damascus, Syria. Since the mid- seventies, she has lived in Paris, where she studied Islamic Philosophy and Theatre at the Sorbonne. She has published three volumes of poetry and a collection of short stories.

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The Proof of the Honey 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
A_Sloan More than 1 year ago
I had to buy the book When I read that this book was about “an Arab-French writer [who] explores in sensuous hindsight the life-changing nature of a passionate affair,” I had to buy the book. The Proof of the Honey turned out to be a bit more and a bit less than what I expected. It is classified as fiction, but it reads like a collection of biographical essays – all pertaining to sex. Sexuality of women and men, specifically within the Arab culture, and not simply regarding affairs (which is really what caught my interest). Since the plotlines are so light, I found myself analyzing my own sexuality and learning new things about myself. I was not as blown away as other readers about her treatment of erotica, although Salwa Neimi surely does bring a surprisingly frankness to such a taboo topic. “Is the scandal in the act or the proclamation of the act?” The book is banned in many Arab nations but a best-seller in those that allow it. It’s a significant piece for dispelling myths and revealing the complexities of Arab culture, but this book just the tip of the iceberg. I immediately think about the hot and steamy passages of Arabian Nights: a collection of ancient folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age (8 AD – 1258). As Neimi says herself, “Arabic is the language of sex.” Overall, this is a great, eye-opening novella. I highly suggest it!