A Harem Boy’s Saga: A Memoir by Young Solstice Publishing
A Provocative and Erotic Autobiography has been written by Bernard Foong Young.
I was intrigue by the story of the author of this book when he invited me to his book launch, I immediately said yes because he wrote an autobiography and I was curious about Young's autobiographies. Not only that but this is book one of a seven book series. Young, tells us that while this is his true story, he promised to maintain confidentiality and allegiance to his mentors and his secret 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 English boarding school where he was a handful of five students selected to enter a more exclusive 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 first of the Saga is approximately 600 pages in length. 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.
To say this was a “good” story simply doesn’t do it justice. This is the true tale of a male Courtesan. Or, as the author puts it – A Harem boy. It begins with his life in Malaya as a small child. The honesty and self awareness he had is astounding. I laughed a bit when he called himself a “Sissy boy”. But then he reclaimed that title and I found that he was quite proud of who he was. The toss of the coin by the Gods created a delicate and beautiful soul who was wise beyond his years – at least regarding his own self. His mother captivated me from the beginning. She doted on her youngest son and allowed him to be who he was. I believe it was her unconditional love that helped shape this adventurous and self-aware boy into a man who obviously, and rightly, loves himself. His relationship with his father, although forced and quite what one would expect, wasn’t as bad as it could have been (Happy to read that. At times I feared the worst.). Starting by learning all about his privileged upbringing in a romantic time helped me understand who and what he came from – and in turn – helped me to see the rest of the story from his eyes. I wanted the same things he did and I felt his relief and desperation to leave for boarding school in the UK. From here, our delicate “Sissy Boy” is initiated into the clandestine society E.R.O.S.
I’ll let the reader get the full story on how that happened. I will say – he was brave, and perhaps a bit naïve. But his childlike trust was not misplaced and he was off on an erotic, and sensual adventure to the Middle East. This is where I truly fell in love with this tale. I felt as if I was reading Arabian Nights and seeing what really happened in the Kosk of a wealthy Middle Eastern man. The world he experienced was lush and opulent – as was the sex. The sexual stories are not graphic in the way one might think. You “see” what you must and, I think, the beloved author still has a few secrets from those times. However, from the fantastical tales he tells, his initiation was beyond the imagination of any young boy of the times. He’s whisked away to Italy, Tunisia, and Paris (among other places). At his young age, he experienced multiple lifetimes.
As I continue to read the story, I realized this wasn’t simply a naughty tale of his escapades as a teenager. It was a love story. There were so many different kinds of love experienced! From his first “puppy love” experience to very real and deeply felt love that the reader watches blossom, we watch him learn what love is – to him. I also realized, halfway through, this was a love story about himself as well. The author has accepted all of his past and accepted himself in the process. He fell in love with himself and it was beautiful to see. A young, gay teenager who could have easily buckled under the pressure of society and his father to hate himself persevered and chose to walk in love in all that he did. That amazes me. His descriptions are lush and makes the reader yearn to be there, to feel the fabrics, to smell the smells, to taste the food and to see the expressions of love.
I will give a word of caution about this book – It was a mental hurdle from the beginning to overcome my assumptions and modern judgment of sex by/with/to a minor. After getting about 200 pages in, I set it aside to think about how I was feeling. I realized a few things – this wasn’t an American story. I had to remove my American glasses as I read this and understand it was a tale from a different land and a different time. I also began to understand the vast difference in social and economic classes. His life of privilege allowed many of his sexual proclivities to be accepted and, as in the school in the UK, pushed to new limits. This story has made me wonder about the wealthy classes of people and what other traditions we laypeople know nothing about. Fascinating. As equally fascinating as the inner working of the Muslim homes. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be transported to such a place. If you can separate your modern, American point of view, and read this story for what it is – you will love it. Much like readers of Anne Rice’s SLEEPING BEAUTY series, this has the same “feel” to it. If you enjoyed that, you will enjoy this as well. I’m a straight woman who doesn’t make a habit of reading homoerotic stories. To each his own, right? But this, this was so much more than just sex confessions. A unique coming of age tale that is beautiful, daring, and provocative. Bravo Young!
Bernard Foong (alias Young)
Ranked International Best Selling Author on amazon.com
A Harem Boy's Saga - Book 1 - Initiation (a memoir by Young)
A Harem Boy's Saga - Book 2 - Unbridled
A Harem Boy's Saga is a 7 books series.