For all the entertainment value provided by so-called chick lit in the Western world--from Britain's Bridget Jones' Diary to the United States' Sex and the City--fiction detailing the shopping and dating habits of young women can hardly be called revolutionary. It's been around at least since Jane Austen's 1813 classic Pride and Prejudice.
But in a country where "driving while female" is illegal, as is checking into a hospital without a male guardian's signature, a gossipy romance can spark an explosion of political debate. That's what happened when a Beirut publishing house first released Girls of Riyadh in 2005, by 24-year-old Rajaa Alsanea. It was initially banned in her native Saudi Arabia, but young Saudis quickly got their hands on it anyway. They lauded it online, while writers and columnists debated the book's meaning and Saudi talking heads told the author she should disown it.Read the rest here