"The Saudi writer Suad Jaber dedicates her first novel, ‘Silence Written by Absence,’ (Samt Yaktabuhu al Ghiyab) to every woman who has endured deprivation. [...]
"Within the framework of this abnormal relation between man and woman, the game of collusion does not reveal conflict between two wills that struggle for one freedom; rather there is always the logic of the one who is capable of possessing and the one who is not.
"Man is conscious of his freedom, and he even builds it upon the wreckage of a woman's freedom. Also, in his relations with her, he does not look for natural ground that maintains the privacy of each party. He is an egoistic creature who does not regard love as an act of freedom but, from his point of view, as a mere framework for social luxury and satisfaction of the sexual urge. Therefore, when a woman fails to find love, man becomes a bitter opponent.
"Away from the boundaries of this relation, national patriotic concerns that are sometimes scattered across the narration are not expressed but rather appear as mumbles on the surface that does not live up to the level of striking conscious insofar as it is an attempt to demonstrate a sort of superficial excellence of female presence vis-à-vis male absence or weak presence until the female presence appears a certainty, whilst the latter retires to the shadow of this certainty.
"In this fashion, we encounter this cry of protest against man in a message… 'Draw the boundaries of the relationship you want…color them, shape them, write them, reject them, remove them … It does matter, because I will remain the woman who gave up her heartbeat to beat for you… I am the woman who gave the sweetest and finest of feelings. I am the woman who reached out to you, to hold you when you were overwhelmed by anxiety and boredom.'
"However, the powerful cry of the ego soon fades and becomes an elegy for the self and the other together when the spirit's resistance collapses versus physical concerns and pressures of reality. The rebellious discourse then follows another pattern, 'Today, I am not asking you to speak, but I call for your reading capability to read the pain and admonition in my eyes. Forgive me for today my words are unsure, unable to convey my meaning and my sentences are weak in expression and my lines bleed before your very eyes… I am not myself and my pen is not mine… A depressing feeling overwhelms me, and my desire for you stifles me.'
"The messages of the book proceed after this pattern. Man has no actual presence except through the narrator, i.e., the writer. He is no more than a recipient of her letter. 'All my feelings began to abandon me… My anger, my love… I do not threaten or make revolutionary statements… I do not condemn or denounce. How far I am from these emotional onslaughts and cries that evoke your loyalty… My national defeats hurt me more than my individual ones… Today I stand on the borderline between existence and non-existence… It is your own life; enjoy it your own way. Do as you like. Fill your heart with sincere love or false emotions… Heed only the voice of ego within you… For me it suffices to have lived the dream so affectionately.' [...]"
Source: Asharq Al Awsat (Saudi-owned, London-based), January 11, 2007