Young. “A Harem Boy’s Saga – I: Initiation”, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
A Provocative and Erotic Autobiography
I am always flattered when I get a letter from someone I do not know asking me to review his book because for me it is a validation that my work is being read and/or paid attention to. When the author of this book asked me to review him, I immediately said yes because he wrote an autobiography and I am curious about young autobiographies. Not only that but this is book one of a five book series. Young is in hid forties and he tells us that while this is his true story, he promised to maintain confidentiality and allegiance to his mentors and his society so we know that the names have been changed.
Young was born into a Chinese family of privilege in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, the third son who early on showed an interest in ballet and fashion. He and his father, a very successful businessman, did not really have a good relationship and in fact, he was not much of a father or a husband. Young was sent to boarding school in England after he was caught having a sexual rendezvous with another boy. What his father did not know was that at school he would be inducted into the Enlightened Royal Oracle Society or EROS and it was there that he learned sensuality and sexuality. The members are trained to be apprentices in harems in the Arab Emirates. What we see here is a very personal view of the Arab world and it is indeed shocking when we consider the treatment of homosexuals under Muslim law. Hopefully this book will bring others with similar experiences to write their stories. I had always believed that such secret societies were fabrications of vivid imaginations and to learn that they actually exist show us the skin trade is alive and well. In addition to receiving a traditional education, Young learned sensuality and carnality. Young writes about his life with great detail but there are graphic scenes of sex that might make some readers wince (but not the readers I know). We get a look at cultures and subcultures that we never knew existed and a brand new look at the Middle East. For me this was a revelation as I lived for many years in a non-Arab country but I did have gay Arab friends and never heard of anything like this. I do not doubt a word in this memoir because I am so aware of the patriarchy that exists in these countries so it is not totally surprising to read that this went on.
There is so much to be learned here—from Young’s childhood life in Malaya to the secret societies in Europe and to the sexual adventures of the upper classes in the emirates. Young was born into affluence and remained there even as a member of a harem. He catches all the details which at times are shocking but taken as a whole this is quite an educational text. Coming in at about 600 pages, I could not stop reading and the more I read the more I learned.
Some may wonder how Young got from England to the emirates and how he was able to hide this from his parents. The trip came under the auspices of a student exchange scholarship program by which Young was sent to a private school somewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. From there he was taken to a secret location where he met other scholarship recipients. He was introduced to the rules and regulations under which he was to live and informed that they were never to be violated. He, in turn, was granted rich rewards and he became a player in a game of the rich and powerful that took place in secret and behind closed doors.
EROS was founded by George Gordon, Lord Byron in the 1800s. During his travels he became enamored with the Turkish way of life and was especially fascinated by the harem. With the passage of time there began an exchange program between England and the emirates and wealthy Arab families funded the scholarships in cooperation with the boarding school. Young felt sure that he had made the right decision and was rewarded not only by the Arabs but by the masters at his school. Boys who were not sexually inhibited were recruited. They had to be comfortable with their sexuality and not afraid to go new places and do new things.
The book comes in at about 600 pages (and this is just the first of five volumes) and I sat and read the entire book without stopping. There is just so much here but the reader must be prepared for the graphic sex. Chapter 28 is entitled “The Art of Seduction and Flirtation” and is basically the pre-requisite for what is to follow as the boys are trained in the arts of body language and grooming which are regimented. Sensuality and foreplay are also considered arts and are taught as well. (An interesting note is that there were young girls who were trained to satisfy the heterosexuals and there were bisexuals as well).
Perhaps one of the chapters I found most interesting was “Sex Before Circumcision”. Arabs are circumcised at 13 years old and there is a difference in sex before and after as is so wonderfully written about here. I could go on and on with examples but it is to everyone’s advantage to read for themselves. I just did not want the book to end. Think about how often we get an education with eroticism to boot. The book is extremely well written and if this review seems to be coming to an abrupt end, that is deliberate. I just want everyone to have the experience of reading this. It is unlike anything I have ever read before.