Hasan, the local imam’s son, has the strange ability to smell a menstruating woman among a thousand others. This helps him classify members of the opposite sex with whom he has little contact until the day he has a brief affair with a married woman. This sexual initiation irrevocably transforms him and shakes his entire system of beliefs. Hasan no longer knows what to believe in nor who he is, he just knows he has to avoid the marriage his father has arranged for him.
Hasan’s story runs in tandem with Wisam’s, a friend of his sister’s, who is unhappily married and having her first lesbian relationship. Her sense of alienation from her husband, her frustration and her newfound sexuality echo Hasan’s questions about religion, identity and sexuality.
Hasan and Wisam will both experience frustration, doubts and ultimately liberation in different ways. Their previously held notions about religion and sexuality are dramatically shaped by their new experiences and the influence of Nadim and Kindah, the progressive intellectuals who help them formulate a new worldview.
Abdulhamid’s daring debut novel explores contemporary themes related to sexuality, self-realization and repression within a conservative religious framework and the ways people are able to reconcile themselves with a changing world.
About the Author
Ammar Abdulhamid was born in 1966 in Syria. He holds a bachelor degree in history from the University of Wisconsin. His publications include Menstruation (Saqi Books) and The Irreverent Activist.
‘Going out on a limb almost comes naturally for Ammar Abdulhamid … he is one of Syria's daring modernizers.’
‘Set in contemporary Damascus, Ammar Abdulhamid’s debut novel is going to upset people. Its title, Menstruation, leaves readers in no doubt that Abdulhamid is not about to pull any punches when it comes to taboo subjects. Clearly a reaction to repression in itself, the novel looks at the effect of conservative values on society, particularly the young.’