A new review and 5 stars for LAILA!


Happy to receive this new review for Laila today on goodreads by Lana Swaiss.

A review for LAILA on Goodreads

Another provocative book by Fadi!


After reading ‘Bride of Amman‘ as a citizen of Amman myself, I remember reading the book from the eyes of the different characters. Each character is so real and depicts true struggles people face in Jordan everyday behind closed doors. It made me connect to a book in a way I never had. The same applies to Laila. Without giving too much away, Laila is the main character, a strong woman who has found strength and courage to be true to her sexual desires, her strength as a provider for her family and fought the gender stereotypes within her home. This character resonated with me deeply, because I know there are so many Laila’s in Jordan that are just as hidden as she is. As an avid reader, I read a lot of books, and reading about sexual fantasies or dominant women in the bedroom is quite common in many English books. But to read about an Arab woman is quite different, because this issue, like many others, is taboo in this country. Fadi so openly talks through Laila about what it is like to be a strong woman in Jordan, what it is like to be a scared yet masculine man like Tariq, and what gender roles look like in a Jordanian family.

 As an avid reader, I read a lot of books, and reading about sexual fantasies or dominant women in the bedroom is quite common in many English books. But to read about an Arab woman is quite different, because this issue, like many others, is taboo in this country. 


I am proud to be a somewhat far relative of Fadi’s, and I remember when members of our family read the book (Jordanian family members), they warned me about the explicit language and uncomfortable events that take place throughout the book. I didn’t find them uncomfortable or strange. Instead, I found this book liberating, and it is very naive to think that the events within the pages of this book are uncommon, strange or unheard of.

 I found this book liberating, and it is very naive to think that the events within the pages of this book are uncommon, strange or unheard of.


I would highly recommend this read, if not for women to find strength within themselves, but for men and women to redefine what masculinity means, and that dominance is by no means a measure of masculinity or superiority, whether in or out of the bedroom.

An excerpt from LAILA by Fadi Zaghmout


                  He was rude when he crept up to me in the bathroom as I was brushing my teeth. He hugged me from behind, and, making sure I felt the bulge in his pants, he swept my hair from my shoulder, his lips ready to plant a kiss on my neck. He still wanted to impose his manhood on me as if his limited way of thinking could not accept the fact that I was repulsed by him. As if his ears were tuned deaf every time I said in no uncertain terms, ‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times: I don’t want you!’

                  My entire body trembled the second I felt him close to me. My muscles tensed and my blood boiled. I tried to control myself and avoid any kind of overblown reaction, but he was shameless. He didn’t care. He was enjoying the burst of male hormones gushing through his veins, ready to act on the urge coursing through his body. I let him plant his kiss on me as I resisted an overwhelming desire to grab the perfume bottle in front of me and spray it in his eyes or to bite his arm, right on the cut I inflected on him the day before. He would have screamed in pain as he hurled a torrent of insults at me, or he would have probably slapped me or lunged at me, trying to hit and hurt me worse than I had hurt him. I would have responded in kind, slapping him back if he slapped me, clawing his face with my nails, or kicking him in the balls to teach him never to do that to me again.

                  But I was wise and acted fast. I ignored his erection pressed up against me. I finished brushing my teeth and put the toothbrush down. I took a sip of water, rinsed my mouth, spat the water out, and then quickly turned off the tap and quietly peeled myself away, leaving the bathroom as if nothing had happened. He followed me a minute later, a wicked smile on his face.

                  I realized that his mind refused to register that I was rejecting him, so he decided to think of my reaction as part of a game. A chase where he was the predator and I the prey. The idea of him as the predator gave him a sense of power, while my resistance translated in his mind as a chance to prove his dominance over me, an invitation to reassert his masculinity. He must have viewed it as fake resistance, the kind prevalent in Egyptian movies. A form of coquettish hard-to-get play used by women to entice men and turn them on. At the end of such a scenario, in his mind, after a few flirtatious moves and acts of fake modesty, I was bound to fall into his arms, surrender to his masculinity, capitulate to his virility.

                  I was a predator. I didn’t think much of the chase unless I was the one doing the chasing, the one breaking a man, reducing him to a meek lamb. Obedient, submissive. Under my control. I had to act firmly when Firas stealthily slunk up behind me as I stood in front of the mirror clasping my bra. I spun around and looked him straight in the eye. ‘What do you want?’

                  ‘Gosh! You’re so stubborn,’ he huffed, as if he didn’t expect my question, or was too embarrassed to come out and just say he wanted me.

                  ‘I’m the one who’s stubborn?’ I snapped, turning my back to him. I picked up my eyeliner and leaned forward, closer to the mirror.

                  ‘Yes. You. You’re so stubborn!’ He yelled at me.

                  ‘And so are you!’ I yelled back as I opened my eye wide to line it with kohl.

                  “Oh, come on. Let’s give it a try,’ he said suddenly, changing his tone, trying to win me over.

                  ‘We’ve tried plenty of times, Firas. You want something and I want something else,’ I replied, unmoved.

                  ‘See how stubborn you are? You insist on acting like the man in bed.’

                  I stopped doing my eyeliner and fixed a sharp gaze on him. ‘Fuck off!’ I said, before adding cynically, ‘Shouldn’t you first know what being a man really means?’

                  ‘Respect yourself and act like a lady!’ he yelled.

                  ‘Act like a lady?’ I almost fell to the floor laughing. ‘Yes, sir. Whatever you say, honey. If you say so, darling. I’ll respect my self and act like a lady, just like you want me to.’ I smoothed my long hair behind my ears and spun around to face him. I put my finger in my mouth, licking it and tilting my head as I gazed at him seductively, adopting the flirtatious Syrian accent of the women from Bab al-Hara. ‘Is this how you like it, babe? What can I do for you, my king, my universe?’

                  Dumbfounded, he watched me carry on with my playacting, making fun of him.

                  ‘I’m at your beck and call, love,’ I teased. I took two steps toward the bed and sat down gently, pouting like Haifa Wehbe in her “Boos El Wawa” music video. I pressed my knees together, lay my head on the pillow, and, running my fingers across my breasts, whispered seductively, ‘Come on then. Come and get it.’

                  But before he could make a move, I flicked the switch, changing my tone of voice and my body language.

                  ‘I know it’s how you want me to be,’ I said, standing up and adopting a serious tone. I raised my head to look him in the eye and added, ‘But I’m not like that and I will never be like that. Not for you and not for anyone else. Got it?’

Excited, LAILA is released!


My third novel, “Laila wal Hamal” translation has just got published in English as LAILA. A story of a woman protagonist that challenges the mainstream stereotypes of female sexuality in the region.

LAILA is a modern Jordanian woman who grows up in a society where customs and traditions endure. Trapped in a marriage to a man she finds physically revolting, LAILA begins to realize secret truths about her sexuality and identity as a woman. Her own sexual needs and desires are in contrast with society’s general perception of women’s roles and expectations, but her reality materializes once she meets a compatible man. The story unfolds in a thrilling and engaging manner and edges towards radical feminism.

Our Arab societies have fallen under the claws of exaggerated toxic masculinity, the balance between genders have been lost, thus I feel that some radical feminist narrative is needed, at least in literature, to rebalance what’s happening on the ground and help us move forward towards more just societies. In writing LAILA, I was inspired by the work of Angela Carter (The Passion of New Eve) and Gillian Flinn (Gone Girl).

In LAILA, I challenge mainstream stereotypes about gender and sexuality in the region. The book, which was originally released in Arabic in 2018 by Egyptian based publisher Kotob Khan under the name of “Laila wal Hamal“, was banned in Jordan due to its subversive narrative and bold depiction of women’s sexuality.

Laila Wal Hamal

I am very excited about the English release of the book. People find it easier to read about such topics in English, and it will be easier to access for many since it will be available on all main book-selling portals worldwide.

Like my first two novels translated to English, this book is published by Signal 8 Press, an independent publisher with offices in England and Florida. Translation is done by Hajer Almosleh.

LAILA is now available in paperback and eBook for worldwide orders.
I hope you enjoy reading this story, and I look forward for your feedback, ratings and reviews!

You can order LAILA from Amazon.com by clicking here.

LAILA on Amazon.com

Haya: On Netflix’s Bonding and Laila and the Lamb


Hello people!
Have you missed me? I am sure you did.
And I am talking to those who were following this blog years back
Like in 2007! (omg feels like ages ago)
Those who know that The Observer is not the only author here
And that I am the infamous “Haya” have actually contributed more engaging and exciting content to this blog.
So Observer but this is true
Whether you agree with it or not!
Yes more “exciting”!
If you don’t believe me, go back and “Google me”
Wait, don’t go and google me as you won’t find anything about me
but search this blog for my older posts.
I promise, you will enjoy reading them.

Anyway, since The Observer started blogging again two weeks ago and I have been itching
I want to blog too!
For new readers, please let me introduce myself
I am The Observer’s female alter ego
The first female voice he used in this writings
Long before those 4 “wanna be” brides in his first book
and long before that boring Janna in his second
who keeps whining and whining about how unhappy she is at a time where she is back to her youth and have all what she wishes for at her fingertips!
What the hell?! Seriously Janna? Just wake up.
If you want Kamil, just go after him and be happy! (rolling my eyes)
And yes, long before his latest dominatrix protagonist – Laila
What the fuck?! How did you get there Observer?

Don’t get me wrong guys, I am all for women empowerment
And yes, there are aspects of Laila’s character that I admire
And I did enjoy reading the book
But that intro page! OMG!
What were you thinking??!
A Jordanian woman wearing a jockstrap and fucking her boyfriend!
SERIOUSLY?
Like SERIOUSLY?
Are you NUTS? Observer?
And then you go all the way and get surprised because the book got banned in Jordan!
Duh!
Did you really expect it to pass censorship? Like really?
It is a book habibi! A printed one! Not your blog!
And you needed to get a reality check!
But hey, I admire your courage
You actually went that far into writing it!
And getting it published!
And talking (shamelessly) about it!
Bravo!
I say bravo although it is not something I would have ever agreed to
If you have consulted me
But anyway, the book is out
And it is banned in Jordan
And people are finding a hard time to find it
Happy?
Enough with berating you
As I actually understand what you were trying to do with that book
I disagree with the means but under where you are coming from
And you people, stop categorizing the book as “pornographic”
Because IT IS NOT!
Yes it has a shocking opening
And few sexual scenes
But IT IS NOT PORN
It is not more of a porn than this new mini series on Netflix called Bonding
If you read Laila and enjoyed it, then you must watch it
It builds on a similar concept
(No Observer, Hollywood is NOT stealing your ideas)
Bonding is a more of comedy series of a dominatrix sex worker with a gay assistant
Intriguing, no?
Original? Despite Observer’s opinion, I’d say yes!
Entertaining? Definitely!
And I have to admit, it feels like it originated from the same line of thinking The Observer had
As in challenging mainstream stereotypes of women’s role in bed
And that’s good – a noble cause I’d say
And while the show taps onto some “disgusting practices”
It does it in a light fun way
Far from the serious tone of Laila
And there is NO SCENE that shows Mistress May (the protagonist of the show) fucking any of her men with a dildo!
(maybe in the second season?) – I bet!
But anyway, there are two things that I want to highlight here
FIRST: I understand that The Observer introduced that scene to provide a critical read for the entire act. He does it clearly towards the end of the story. And to be honest, it is a needed thought provoking read.
SECOND: (*spoiler alter*) Bonding ends with a crime, one that Mistress May commits, and articulates that she can’t report to the police because no one would believe her. That sounds exactly like Tarek’s dilemma in Laila’s story. The same concept of how someone would react when he is doing something wrong in the eyes of the society and ends up in much worse situation. Come clean or run away?

What would you do?
Have your read Laila and the Lamb or watched Bonding?
If not, then you should.
And when you do. Come back here and let me know what you think!

Sincerely yours,
Haya