Royal 8vo paperback; 164 pages; £8.00 (plus £1.30 p&p)
ISBN 978 1 904552 62 8
“The decision to bring Fatima to London had been taken a while ago. Still no sign of pregnancy, she would see a consultant gynaecologist in Harley Street in the morning.”
From Two Teenagers, a story from The Gulf.
A collection of 29 short stories from the pen of Greg Stokes set in the oil rich Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates, and England’s Black Country when the coal has gone and industry is in decline. The is a stark gulf between the two locations and the two cultures.
But the title story, The Gulf, shows their histories to be very similar with local lords fighting over land which held mineral wealth they weren’t aware of. The next four stories span both countries and move at turns from presidential palace in Abu Dhabi to council tenement in Smethwick, from expensive clinic to children’s home.
The remaining 24 stories are in pairs, one set in Arabia and one in the Black Country, which look at common themes such as would be artists, local elections, royalty, and feuds. Like all Greg Stokes’ work, some are full length stories while others are snapshots of people, places, or events. Some look at the expat lifestyle, while others look at the local culture which westerners find difficult to fathom. At a time when there is fear of Islamic fundamentalism in the west, Stokes, who lost his father to such extremism in the Reagan/Thatcher war on terrorism, paints a picture of a religion with a huge welfare principle and a people who, while we might not fully understand them, are not to be feared at all.
For full synopsis click here