Gulnar, a mythical embodiment of womanhood, relates the tale of the seven men from Araby, ostensibly the "creme de la creme" of the nation, the pillaras of rectitude and the symbols of power and influence. They all coveted her body and only sheer lust after her made them agree to make it to her Greek island. But Gulnar was of no easy virtue and would give herself only to the one proving to be the most enthralling. A contest was staged and each of the seven men had to relate his own story: the events of the most exciting week of his life. The poet had to be first...On the last night the difficult choice had to be made...or was she interrupted by a gentle voice requeting her to close that notebook and tell him about the stories of her seven men? There were no tigers on that Greek island: a poet who plagiarized, a philosopher incapable of independent thought, a journalist who made a living out of sleaze and blackmail, a psychiatrist who lived off the misery of those less fortunate, a confidence-trickster dreaming of young boys and a businessman who made his living selling rotten meat.
The island cries out loud: 'I sentence these seven men to death,' a cry to which Gulnar's grandfather adds: 'charged with demeaning women...with corruption...' "Seven" is a daring novel in both form and content. The ironic version of the Shererazade archetype is a daring challenge to an entire poetics and more vocally to the ethical decay of an entire nation. The narrative vehicle of the memoire-within-memoire is used to fascinating effect. The intertextuality is powerful: the classical poet al-Mutanabbi is invoked to mark the various way-stations that Gulnar and her heroes pass through. Equally poignant is the irony and the self-revelation, the veiled social critique and the laying bare of rotten values taken on trust for far too long.
Ghazi Algosaibi is well-known in the Arab world as a writer of both poetry and prose. Something of a Renaissance figure, his career has spanned academia, politics and the arena of diplomacy, as well as the world of letters. He has published over twenty works in Arabic, including poetry, essays, prose meditations and a novel. Dusting the Colour from Roses is also published by Saqi.