For Jill, a young American living in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, life is in “a holding pattern” of long days in a restrictive place-“sandlocked nowhere,” as another expat calls it. Others don’t know how to leave, and try to adopt the country as their own. And to those who were born there, the changes seem to come at warp speed: Thurayya, the daughter of a Bedouin chief, later finds herself living in a Riyadh high-rise where, she says, there are “worlds wound together with years.”
The characters in the linked stories in Triple Time are living an uneasy mesh of two divergent cultures, in a place where tradition and progress are continually in flux. These are tales of confliction-of old and new, rich and poor, sexual repression and personal freedom. We experience a barren yet strangely beautiful landscape jolted by sleek glass apartment towers and opulent fountains. On the fringes of urbanity, Bedouins traverse the desert in search of the next watering hole.
Beneath a surface of cultural upheaval, the stories hold deeper, more personal meanings. They tell of yearnings-for a time lost, for a homeland, for belonging, and for love. Anne Sanow reveals much about the culture, psyche, and essence of life in modern Saudi Arabia, where Saudis struggle to keep their traditions and foreigners muddle through in search of a quick buck or a last chance at making a life for themselves in a world that is quickly running out of hiding places.