‘The Hidden Light of Objects’

Architecture Here and There

Kuwait City before the oil boom. (kora.com) Kuwait City before the oil boom. (kora.com)

The fragility of culture, even of culture wrought in the hardness of masonry, is one of the themes of the ten short stories in Mai Al-Nakib’s first book, The Hidden Light of Objects. The second story, “Echo Twins,” is set after oil was discovered but before its exploitation. It is backdropped by life in traditional mud brick houses around courtyards and bunched in groups separated by very narrow winding alleys leading, mostly, to the nearest souk, or market.

Mai Al-Nakib. (thenational.ae) Mai Al-Nakib. (thenational.ae)

Over dinner on her book-tour stop in Providence, Mai told me she thought this story would tickle my own interest in the natural rhythms of traditional architecture.

Throughout the Middle East, old residential patterns are being eradicated, leaving the culture and social mores in tatters. This is happening not only in Kuwait but in Mecca itself. The latter is…

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