"The gritty realism of The Salmiya Collection shows globalization in a way that no reader is likely to forget."—Dale F. Eickelman, author of The Middle East and Central Asia: An Anthropological Approach
"Named after a fashionable district overlooking the Gulf, filled with elegant shopping malls, an American university, and an ever-increasing number of hotels and tall residential buildings, this collection captures the spirit of life in modern Kuwait. Here one finds vignettes about the Kuwaiti nationals and the expatriates who come to Kuwait for work, including professionals, service industry personnel, and laborers. Loomis describes their diverse experiences with insight and humor. Many of these stories touch the heart. A vivid and fascinating panorama."—Raymond Farrin, author of Abundance from the Desert: Classical Arabic Poetry
"Loomis’s stories see the world from the perspective of the characters he depicts, foreigners and Kuwaitis alike . . . readers will enjoy and be provoked by The Salmiya Collection."—Earl (Tim) Sullivan, professor and provost emeritus, American University in Cairo
In The Salmiya Collection, Loomis celebrates the essence of everyday life in a little-known part of the world. With lucid prose and keen detail, these stories offer nuanced portraits—tragicomic, bittersweet, and candid—of ordinary Kuwaitis: expatriates and natives, students and professors, siblings, and lovers. In “Ancient Civilization 101,” a young man suspects his girlfriend Mariam is unfaithful and, in a fury, shears her long hair. The confidence and boldness in Mariam that first attracted him is now seen as a threat. In “The Conference on Rights and Freedom,” two young students invited to present their paper at an academic conference in the United States share with their professor their dramatic plan to “show them who we are.”
Each of the forty stories in the collection reverberates with the others, illuminating a world the reader will not soon forget. Loomis renders a Kuwaiti society that is complex and distinct, and yet the characters and situations unveil a time and a place that is universal.
Craig Loomis is associate professor of English and head of the Division of Humanities and Arts at the American University of Kuwait. He is the author of A Softer Violence: Tales of Orient (Minerva Press, 1995), and his short fiction has appeared in the Iowa Review, Colorado Review, Quarterly West, Louisville Review, and the Prague Revue.