Wednesday, June 23, 2021

From Alia to Ali, "Without" Is Based On The True Story Of An Arab Transgender Man’s Search For Belonging

Without by Younis Alakhzami, is a frank and sensitive account of a man searching for belonging as someone he feels he is not.

Without tells a story of searching for belonging both in the world and within your own skin. Born in Saudi Arabia to a Yemeni family, the novel’s protagonist has been ill-at-ease since childhood, because he never felt like a girl. Alia’s alienation grows as he slowly comes to realise that he is, in fact, a man and begins the transition to live life as Ali.

This is a very important story to tell as it portrays the hardship faced by gender non-conforming people in society. The novel is sensitive and frank in how it approaches an intersex person’s struggles with the realities of love, friendship, and survival against the backdrop of a life lived between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and then later the UK. Without navigates complex issues in a very human way, painting an honest portrait of how people come to terms with challenges they never expected to face. Told in a deceptively simple style, through tightly woven and skillful narration, Without makes these struggles resonate with us all.