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So it is with some relief that we meet at the Ritz Hotel in Chicago, where Alsanea erupts from the lift, a whirlwind of designer labels, perfect manicure and lipgloss, consulting her Gerald Genta watch (a white saucer, inset with diamonds). She [the photographer] is trying to make me kick up my legs.She looks fabulously glitzy, as you would expect from the writer of a novel widely hyped as 'Saudi-style Sex and the City'. This one is for my Saudi chip; this one is a pocket PC.'At 25, she is confident and outspoken and has the hauteur of someone who grew up with two maids and drivers. I say, I am a writer, a grade-A student and a dentist, so I should be a little bit formal.'But she is also hard to pin down.Let it go.'' ' She has also received death threats and her inbox is filled with 'exploding e-mails'.To underline the headaches, Alsanea will later inform me that if I were a male journalist interviewing her in Riyadh, I would probably be pounced on by men with long beards and black robes from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the religious police), and led off to be interrogated for being out in public with a woman who is not family.You have a whole world to learn from and you tend to compare what you have with what others have.'The book struck an immediate chord.First published in Lebanon two years ago - 'all Saudi books that are controversial start in Lebanon, just because we have censorship for books in Saudi' - it became a cult hit.'Cosmetic surgery is forbidden in Islam, but everyone does it,' Alsanea says.
They have the money, they can go anywhere they want in the world, but when they want to come back home, they have to behave a certain way because society is asking them to do this. We can choose our mates and have the freedom to go out.'Alsanea was born in Kuwait, the youngest of six children, into a family of relatively modest means.
I'm talking about a life that starts in 1999 - when the internet arrived.
It exposed young people to what is happening outside Saudi, not just what you're taught at home or at school.
'I got it a few days later.' As well as now being available throughout the Arab world, the book has picked up a high-profile endorsement (Ghazi Al-Quasaibi, the celebrated Saudi author and former ambassador to the UK, wrote the prologue and praised it as 'worth reading') and secured a place in the top 10 of the German bestseller list.
It is now poised to slice through the rest of Europe and the States.'It is a book that shed light on what was going on,' explains Khaled Al-Maeena, the editor of Arab News, who thinks that novelty is what lies behind the success.
'I want people to know these are issues we go through, and we never talk openly, just because we're raised in a way that everything brings shame.