Spice Circle

Salha Obeid

The heroine of the novel belongs to a family of spice traders. Those close to her realise that she is able to distinguish the various elements of spices with remarkable accuracy, and with this powerful sense of smell she also judges people based on their scent. When she meets “the boy of the graveyard”, she is disgusted and revolted by his smell; yet she is simultaneously drawn to him. As she grows up her family forbid her from playing by the graveyard wall since she is “too old for games”, and they later leave the district altogether, putting an end to her friendship with the boy. However, he never forgets their childhood spent together, and one day suddenly appears to ask for her hand in marriage. She refuses, since he now has no discernible scent at all, which she finds unsettling. As well as the story of this personal relationship, Spice Circle tracks the wider context of the rapid transformation and growth of Dubai and Emirati society.




2024 Longlist