What We Are Reading Today: The Shoe Shiners by Aishah Al-Dowsari

Updated 08 June 2018

What We Are Reading Today: The Shoe Shiners by Aishah Al-Dowsari

  • This is an inspirational story that encourages readers to pursue their own dreams despite the hardships one may face

Masihoo Al-Ahziya (The Shoe Shiners), a novel by Aishah Al-Dowsari published in 2013, tells the story of three shoe shiners on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, and the extraordinary experiences that change their lives for the better.

Ziyad, Walid and Sarkis embark on voyages of self-discovery, discovering their passions and true calling along the way, and work hard to make their dreams come true despite coming from a tough background of humiliation, torment and degradation because of their occupation. Ziyad, for example, leaves his family behind and travels in search of better job opportunities to Saudi Arabia, where he is introduced to a different culture, society and way of life.

This is an inspirational story that encourages readers to pursue their own dreams despite the hardships one may face.

It is also an interesting read because of its use of both the Saudi and Lebanese dialects, and evident cultural colors.


What We Are Reading Today; Goya: A Portrait of the Artist by Janis Tomlinson

Updated 31 min 21 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today; Goya: A Portrait of the Artist by Janis Tomlinson

The life of Francisco Goya (1746–1828) coincided with an age of transformation in Spanish history that brought upheavals in the country’s politics and at the court which Goya served, changes in society, the devastation of the Iberian Peninsula in the war against Napoleon, and an ensuing period of political instability. 

In this revelatory biography, Janis Tomlinson draws on a wide range of documents—including letters, court papers, and a sketchbook used by Goya in the early years of his career—to provide a nuanced portrait of a complex and multifaceted painter and printmaker, whose art is synonymous with compelling images of the people, events, and social revolution that defined his life and era.Tomlinson challenges the popular image of the artist as an isolated figure obsessed with darkness and death, showing how Goya’s likeability and ambition contributed to his success at court, and offering new perspectives on his youth, rich family life, extensive travels, and lifelong friendships. She explores the full breadth of his imagery—from scenes inspired by life in Madrid to visions of worlds without reason, from royal portraits to the atrocities of war. 

She sheds light on the artist’s personal trials, including the deaths of six children and the onset of deafness in middle age, but also reconsiders the conventional interpretation of Goya’s late years as a period of disillusion, viewing them instead as years of liberated artistic invention, most famously in the murals on the walls of his country house, popularly known as the “black” paintings.

A monumental achievement, Goya: A Portrait of the Artist is the definitive biography of an artist whose faith in his art and his genius inspired paintings, drawings, prints, and frescoes that continue to captivate, challenge, and surprise us two centuries later.