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At the center of the novel is a Jeddah palace, believed by the people to be a place of paradise where everything becomes possible. The palace, however, is not what it seems. Having proved himself through his early sexual exploits, the young narrator Tarek Fadel has now been appointed to the palace... as its new executioner. His entry to palace society is facilitated by his old mentor Eissa, who has been elevated to a powerful position by the side of the master of the palace who maintains a public image very different from the private hell that he presides over. To the outside world he is the employer of the downtrodden and the disabled, while those on the inside know the terrors he is routinely capable of. In this extraordinary work, we are introduced to Tarek's vicious new world through his own eyes, seeing firsthand the tasks he carries out on behalf of his master, including celebratory rapes and other humiliations of the master's enemies. The novel was described by Taleb Alrefai, the head of the 2010 IPAF judges panel, as "a brilliant exploration of the relationship between the individual and the state. Through the eyes of its two-dimensional protagonist, the book gives the reader a taste of the horrifying reality of the excessive world of the palace."
Abdo Khal is a Saudi novelist born in 1962. A preacher for a short time in his youth, Khal studied political science at university and is the managing editor of the Jeddah-based newspaper Okaz. Khal, the author of numerous novels and short stories, says he sees writing as a way of attacking the corruption of the wealthy in the Arab world. Khal describes his novels as being about 'sex, politics, and religion... the things that make up people's lives'.