Throwing Sparks is a deeply dark novel which follows the confessions of a hit man, employed by a mysterious rich businessman in the Saudi city of Jeddah.
The service the protagonist renders to the rich man (the owner of a mysterious palace) is unusual: he punishes his employer’s enemies, his male business opponents, by sexually assaulting them, and capturing it all on video camera.
The palace in question is a stage that witnesses scenes of human disintegration, corruption and evil. Its dwellers are corrupt businessmen, prostitutes and people with distorted souls, entrusted with filthy tasks by the palace owner.
The ugliness of the scenes in the novel would suggest that they are metaphoric, were it not for the fact that the author, Abdo Khal, has been quick to declare that he does not believe in alien metaphors and symbols being forced on a non-existing reality. The novel, he adds, is based on an existing reality, one resembling a nightmare in its horrors. It is like a laboratory in which human evil is tested, and stretched to unimaginable limits.
The author lifts the luxury carpet in the palace to show all kinds of rotten dirt swept under it, in high contrast with the elegant decoration of the rooms and the expensive perfumes worn by its dwellers and visitors.
In his novel Abdo Khal explores the corrupting impact of power, making a statement by placing the marginalized and the powerless in the limelight. The novel is dominated by characters who would never get attention in the real world: miserable, insignificant, wretched people, in sharp contrast with what we would expect to find in a society known for its extreme wealth.
In Throwing Sparks, the author throws light on the dark spots of the human soul, exposing what is hidden and leaving the reader with a shocking, generalizing assertion: ‘the human soul is nothing but a repository of dirt.’