A Novel

Translated by Robin Bray

9780863563119 April 2003 Paperback 296pp

About the Book

Turki al-Hamad’s explosive novel Adama became an unlikely bestseller in the Middle East, selling more than 20,000 copies despite being officially banned in several countries, including the author’s native Saudi Arabia. A compelling coming-of-age story, it also offers a rare and stunning inside look at the hidden roots of dissent in the modern Arab world.

In his tranquil middle-class neighbourhood, eighteen-year-old Hisham doesn’t quite fit in. He’s a budding philosopher who spends his days reading banned books and developing his political ideals. His Saudi Arabia is a nation embroiled in internal conflict, torn between ancient tradition and newfound prosperity. Hisham finds himself caught up in the struggle for change, devoting more and more of his time to a shadowy group of dissenters even as he questions both their motives and methods.

The result is an intense showdown between Hisham’s love for his family, his firmly held philosophies, and his yearning for social justice. He awakens to passions both private and political, coming to grips with the paradoxes of a conservative land where illicit pleasures co-exist with the apparatus of a merciless state.

About the Author

Turki al-Hamad is a highly successful author in the Arab world. His novels are controversial throughout the Middle East; he is the target of four fatwas (religious edicts) claiming his life. He is the author of Adama and Shumaisi, both published by Saqi Books. He continues to live in Riyadh and teaches at the American University in Beirut.


‘I loved this book, which exposes the secrets of the inner and the outer life of the people of Saudi Arabia and made them vividly real to me; writing this book was a great act of courage.’
Maggie Gee

Adama is not only a warm, funny and fascinating book, it is also a very brave one. It deserves to be read.’
The Times

‘Al-Hamad has written a charming and involving coming-of-age tale. Always humane and often humourous, Adama has much to say about the foibles of the adolescent mind.’
Boyd Tonkin, Independent