Saudi author bridges dreams, reality in fantasy novel

RIYADH (Arabnews): Saudi author Kendah Jambi bridges the gap between fantasy and reality in her sellout Arabic novel “Al-Rahala.”

The story revolves around a group of people called Al-Rahala, or nomads, who develop the ability to shift realties and travel through the multiverse.

However, problems arise when they lose control and end up being catapulted into a whirlpool of realms beyond their comprehension.

Speaking to Arab News, the 22-year-old author said: “I drowned myself in research of all relevant subjects that may affect the storyline and plot building, such as quantum jumping, lucid dreaming, reality shifting, history and mythology.”

In 1913, Danish physicist Niels Bohr proposed the concept of quantum jumping, laying the basis for quantum physics and the idea of a multiverse where realities can coexist.

Jambi said: “‘Al-Rahala’ is heavily inspired by my personal experiences within the land of waking dreams. I began having lucid dreams, dreams I can control through awareness as an escape mechanism, realizing that the reality I visit in my sleep is a world of wonders I want people to see through my eyes.

“I have always been an avid reader of the fantasy genre. However, I noticed a lack of such books, especially those written in Arabic by Arab writers, especially females.”

Jambi said that she is unaware of any other books in Arabic that shed light on quantum jumping, lucid dreaming and worlds beyond ours.

The author said that she wrote “Al-Rahala” with the aim of enriching the Arabic writing scene and helping readers fall in love with the Arabic language — much as she did.

Jambi began work on the book in high school and faced several hurdles before launching the book in December 2021.

“Many of the challenges I faced when writing the book was about simplifying my research, and putting it into layman’s terms that set the scene for what the adventurous nomads call realms,” she said.

“Safe to say due to the hardships of such a critical time, it took me about eight years to wrap up ‘Al-Rahala,’ especially since my move from high school to university, the peer pressure, constant stress of exams, and career paths threw off my progress for a while.”

Jambi said that the book is rich in symbolism, such as “blood moon” and “zero land.”

“The blood moon symbolizes many things. It’s an interesting mixture of change and chance. Combine it with the crimson-red hue of the moon, and you get a marker of violence and strange disturbances in nature, foreshadowing many of the events that take place in the book,” said Jambi.

Zero land is considered terra nullius, a land that falls in between nations and is governed by no one, she said. It is a land infested with beasts and a home to outcasts. Despite being uninhabitable, it is a conflicted region due to its strategic geographical location.

“Al-Rahala” is published by Adab Books, and is available at Jarir and Virgin Megastore.

“At first, I was rejected by most publishing houses for different reasons, and the ones that accepted my work had remotely high publishing fees for a student like myself. Thankfully, my family believed in me and supported me throughout the process,” she said.

The young author revealed that the book’s success has encouraged her to complete a trilogy that captures even more of her adventures on the astral plane.

“To all my aspiring fantasy writers out there, write until you perfect your craft. Don’t rush, but allow yourself to sail in the oceans of imagination,” Jambi said.