High Heel Robbery By Ayah Al-Shakhly

Posted on: August 13th, 2013 by Maria Josey


Title: High Heel Robbery

Author: Ayad Al-Shakhly

Subject: Comedy

Release Date: Available Now

Reviewer: Maria Josey


Ayad Al-Shaky’s High Heel Robbery may at first glance cause a reader to think of it as a “Harlequin-meets-Agatha Christie” novel, but in actuality, this wonderful novel does not remotely resemble either. Instead, Al-Shakhly’s novel is like an Arabic version of the Harold and Kumar movies – only instead of Jersey, the two main characters reside in Anchorage, Alaska. Jabraldeen, a very sensitive, overweight, balding, self-conscious alcoholic Arab drives a taxi by day, and sells flowers by night. His cousin Shabaaz, goes by “Shawn” and is everything that Jabraldeen isn’t: smart, sexy, popular and fit. After Shawn finishes his military tour of Afghanistan, he decides to meet up with Jabraldeen in Anchorage. There he meets the beautiful, sassy yet savvy Laura, and the two fall madly in love. Yet all is not tabbouli and baklava in Anchorage, because the menacing trouble-maker cousin (who isn’t really a cousin), Abu Kef, has decides he absolutely doesn’t like Laura, and that he’s going to ensure Shawn packs his bags and heads out of Anchorage – alone. His plots and schemes to break the couple up and cause a rift between the two real cousins and creates a plot of hilarity, with some really messed-up consequences that will make every reader grateful to not be in Shawn and Laura’s shoes. When the local stripper, Starla, comes along and throws a wrench in the whole thing with her thieving ways, every character ends up misled, confused, angry and resentful. Can they all resolve their issues to be one big happy family? You’ll have to read to find out!

Humour is difficult to successfully pull off in a novel – but this is one of those rare books that executes its hilarity perfectly. Is there anything funnier than a balding, overweight Arab taxi driver in Anchorage trying to hard to fit in by saying things like “YOLO” and posting drunk pictures to Facebook to appear more popular? Al-Shakhy introduces the Arabic culture well to those unfamiliar with Middle Eastern families. Endless references are made about the importance of family and “respecting” each other or not offending. The book has an authentic quality. And the result offers an interesting perception of reality through its characters’ eyes. High Heel Robbery is a very contemporary, hip book that has too many (literal!) “LOL” moments to count! The characters are mostly likeable, although Laura’s narrative feels a bit weak in comparison to the male characters. The overall character-development is slightly shallow (even some more physical characteristics would be helpful – what did Shawn and Abu Kef even look like?). The numerous song lyrics feels too distracting to be impactful or funny, and Shawn’s denseness to Abu Kef’s antics seems a little implausible for a guy who was supposedly so highly trained and worldly. Still, none of those slight negatives alter the fact that the book is hilariously funny and oddly endearing. If people thought My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a hysterical ethnic comedy, then they need to get their hands on this!