by Sue Braunschweig

In Dubai Wives ZvezdanaRashkovich delivers a trip to Dubai without the airline ticket and additional expenses for hotel and restaurant and that was just what I was looking for. Zvezdana introduces the reader to the glamorous and the gritty in the exotic desert city on the Arabian Gulf that she currently calls home.

In truth I am still mourning the fact that I couldn’t attend the Dubai Literary Festival this year where I had hoped to meet the author in person.  We have become Twitter friends within the last six months or so.  Plain and simple she lives in a really cool place.  This I know for a fact because I travelled to Dubai on vacation last year.  In my past life I was an expat wife in Hong Kong so I can relate to the life of some of her characters and circle of friendship among diverse types of women far from their native homelands and families.

After receiving the book I found that she had self-published and wondered why she took that road. Then I began to read.  I found that I was quickly sucked into the exotic and dangerous world she created.  There in the pages were the fancy shopping malls that I visited and adored.  There was the restaurant by the yacht club where I sat listening to the waves crash.  There was the high spire of the Burj Dubai towering over the city seemingly piercing the heavens.  In the pages I found again the glorious Palm where I got goose bumps on the double-decker tour bus ride I took as it drove us on the road that forms the “trunk” past condos and villas, a mosque and finally at the tip the Atlantis Hotel.  I could again glimpse the Indian and Pakistani neighborhood where my hotel was located.  I was there while India won the world cup and I remember the electricity of those days in the clogged streets near my hotel and the ecstatic shop keepers in the gold souk.

Zvezdana’s characters welcomed me into the expat life that I of course didn’t get to participate in during my short visit to her city.  Here were belly dancers from Eastern Europe, a young Moroccan ripped from her home and into the sex trade by opportunist “relative”, businessmen caught in greed, expats who have lost touch with their humble beginnings, wealthy women, and an American convert to Islam who married a man with a secret.  It was a fascinating tour–like a friend who showed you around the good and the bad of her hometown and let you in on the secrets of her friends.

Pacing of the book was fast.  Within the first twenty pages I was hooked and fully engrossed in the strange tale set in Dubai.

The only “flaw” in the book is a handful of uncorrected typos that easily would have been cleaned up by an editor if she had had the benefit of a full staff at a traditional publishing house.

Dubai Wives is a strong first novel by Zvezdana Rashkovich.  She is currently working on a second. ‘Africa in the way I dance’ set in 1970’s Sudan where she grew up on farm by the Nile.

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