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reviews 115 in America, and that his virulent criticism of colonialism in general and British colonialism in particular had little purchase either at the level of policymaking or in the popular imagination. What emerges out of the erudite survey of Victorian literature in Rule ofDarkness is the extent to which 19th-century culture was suffused by the hegemonic ideology of moral superiority and racialism. From a defense of Clive ("his crimes were great, but so were his temptations"), to the obsession with exonerating British atrocities during the Indian Mutiny (there was superstition , prejudice, and race hatred on both sides), the Victorians were better able to blame the victims and justify their own conduct. The imperial ideas by which metroplitan cultures constituted reality and morality left no room at all for a critique of colonialism. Again and again Brantlinger points out that figures such as Trollope and Disraeli can be viewed as "anti-imperialist" only if one narrows the definition to mean "no new territories." Not a single author, not a single character in a novel, not a single poem argued that India should be restored to the Indians or that the Caribbean Islands should be granted independence or that England should relinquish its African possessions. If anti-imperialism there was in the 19th century, it was lightly purchased indeed. MODHUMITA ROY The Veiled Sun, by Mohammed T. Al-Rashid. Fort Lauderdale, FIa: Ashley Brooks, Inc., 374 pp. $22.95(cloth). Beer In the Snooker Club, by Wauih Ghali. New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1987. 251 pp. $9.95 (paper). These two novels, written in English by bi-cultural Arab writers, provide insight into the politics and society of two vastly different Arab cultures that few other works can supply: they are more accessible to Western readers than many translated Arabic novels, because instead of eavesdropping upon conversations between Arab writers and their society, we are listening to voices directed toward us. The Veiled Sun, while uneven as a literary work, is a vivid portrait of modem Saudi Arabia. The plot of the novel is simple and its main function is to act as a framework for Al-Rashid's descriptions and insights. Through his narrator-protagonist, Majed, Al-Rashid describes the transformation of Saudi Arabia from a traditional village society to a modem police state. Majed grows up in a village in central Saudi Arabia where tradition is strong, stifling to individual aspirations, but never deliberately cruel or unjust. The villagers at least know one another, tolerate some variety of opinion, and arrive at decisions collectively. For example, Majed sneaks off into the desert for secret chats with HaIa, a village girl who is out tending her family's flocks. Rumors spread that Majed and Hala are having sex, which according to Islam would be the sin of fornication. Yet they are found innocent in a public trial in a mosque. These scenes contrast sharply with those of Majed's life after his family moves to Riyadh, where no one dares say anything against royal family or the dreaded morality police, the Motawaeen. Westerners living in Saudi Arabia have tended to assume that the Motawaeen are Islamic funda- 116 reviews mentalists whom the regime must placate in order to stay in power. Worse, they have focused on the Motawaeen harassment of Westeners and interpreted this as proof of Saudi xenophobia. Far more persuasively, Al-Rashid depicts the Motawaeen as a militia working within the regime who use false accusations of religious heterodoxy to keep the public too intimidated to question government authority. The Motawaeen, essentially, play "bad cop" to the royal family's "good cop." It is the Motawaeen who ultimately arrest Majed on charges of having written a blasphemous leaflet. The real reason for his imprisonment and torture, however, is that he is suspected of knowing leaders of a group plotting to overthrow the regime. Apperently based on the uprising in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province and Johaiman as Otaibi's Mecca revolt in late 1979, Al-Rashid's fictional narrative tends to give credence to rumors that the almost simultaneous uprisings were part of a larger rebellion of dissident forces throughout the country. All that Majed has done...


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pp. 115-120
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