The Death of a Saudi Author

The Death of a Saudi Author

Reza Aslan on Tehrangeles, revolution and the death threats that sidelined his book tour in Saudi Arabia

Aslan, a prolific author who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and three daughters, is the author of a number of bestsellers, including The Lingering, Black Sword, The Crippled King, The Boy in the Striped Pyjama, and, most recently, No Time to Tango, among other titles.

Tehrangeles was a tale of two cities — and two countries. In one of the great geopolitical moments of our time, Saudi Arabia, which hosts a number of his visits (as well as the Arab world, where he currently resides), was the only country to offer to fly him and his family on one of its jets to the US, a service he has called “a godsend.”

Tehrangeles, however, had an alternative plan. He was a writer, and he’d recently begun a book tour in Saudi Arabia.

There was one problem: He’d never been on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

It’s a place with a great deal of political and cultural turbulence. Aslan told BuzzFeed News how he first fell victim to one of the country’s many anti-terror laws.

Tehrangeles in Saudi Arabia, August 2017.

Then there was the death threats against those who refused to publicly affirm his Islamic conversion.

Tehrangeles in Saudi Arabia, August 2017.

And then there was his own life.

Last month, as he was about to begin a five-day trip to Saudi Arabia to promote his much-anticipated book, a text that’s been lauded by some as a masterpiece of humanistic narrative and cultural criticism, he suffered a cardiac event that ended his life.

Tehrangeles, who had just started an intense book tour about the Saudi kingdom, collapsed on the sidewalk in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel on Aug. 15 and died shortly thereafter. He was 49 years old.

“His mother saw him collapse,” Aslan told BuzzFeed News, “and tried to call for help.”

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