The Dohmestics by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
It pulled me into a culture and then used that culture as a vehicle to explore the relationships and dynamics between the privileged and the poverty-stricken; between workers and employees; between men and women; between power and corruption.
Edna, Amira, and Noof are neighbors but that doesn’t mean they know what happens behind closed doors or that they have anything in common with their hired help.
Maria, Maya, and Lillie live in the same compound as their employers but that’s where the similarities begin and end.
There’s never a dull moment for anyone in this desert emirate.
The unending gossip and unrelenting competition may be business as usual for expatriate communities but the unspoken secrets threaten to destroy life as everyone knows it.
About Mohanalakshi Rajakumar:
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a writer who has lived in Qatar since 2005. She has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation project was published as Haram in the Harem (Peter Lang, 2009) a literary analysis of the works of three Muslim women authors in India, Algeria, and Pakistan.
She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology which features essays by Qataris on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010). Her research has been published in numerous journals and anthologies.
She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine based in Doha and a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. She has been a regular contributor for Variety Arabia, AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, Expat Arrivals, Speak Without Interruption and Qatar Explorer. She hosted two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio.
Currently Mohana is working on a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and a novel based in Qatar. She believes words can help us understand ourselves and others. Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.
Review by Aya Walkstar:
I’m more of the blood and guts kind of reader, but when I was given an opportunity to read The Dohmestics I took it. And, I am glad that I did.
This thought-provoking book hooked me right from the first page. On the surface, it appears to be about six women whose lives intertwine, three are privileged women and three are their servants. But, there is so much more to this book.
It pulled me into a culture and then used that culture as a vehicle to explore the relationships and dynamics between the privileged and the poverty-stricken; between workers and employees; between men and women; between power and corruption. I was taken on a journey that challenged me to not only understand this foreign culture, but to view my own with enlightened eyes.
I loved how it took a small decision and traced the ripples of that decision to its’ tragic end. But even in tragedy there existed an opportunity for people to shine, to rise above all that limits them and to reach out to each other.
This book took me from anger to sadness to strength. Quite the journey, and one I highly recommend.
Review by Sabrina:
In the latest novel by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, The Dohmestics, you are taken on a journey to a foreign country. From the first pages you’re pulled into an intriguing story of three women of different levels of privilege, and their servants. All women represent different races, classes and cultures.
It’s a story about the power inherent in wealth, the exploitation of this power and the unfortunate consequences of such. As you learn more about these women’s lives, you develop such deep empathy and sadness for the servants’ situations.
While the plot culminates in an inevitably sad ending, it’s an important moral message about how common and easy it is for power to lead to the disrespect and irresponsibility of people’s lives. I recommend it, if only to help put “first world problems” in perspective!