A compelling and fascinating novel by one of Egypt's most acclaimed writers, and winner of the inaugural International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
As the 19th century draws to a close, the politically disgraced Mahmoud Abd El Zahir takes up his post as District Commissioner of the remote and dangerous Egyptian oasis of Siwa, knowing he has no choice. The hostile, warring natives are no surprise but little did he expect to fall in love, his Irish wife to alienate the entire community, or a local beauty to prove a fatal ally. As the gulf between occupier and occupied, husband and wife, dreams and reality widens, tensions reach boiling point.
A boldly imaginative exploration of Egypt s tragic history, and takes us back to the imperial dreams of Alexander the Great, suggesting parallels with the dreams of Bush and Bush. Taher s voice is sombre, wise and lyrical. - Margaret Drabble, Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year
'A subtle cast of characters emotively bring the complexity of politics to vivid, powerful life - Zena Alkayat, Metro
Fascinating...The most compelling journey is that of Mahmoud inwards, an accurate and sensitive portrayal of the honest but weak man - Navtej Sarna, Times Literary Supplement
Ambitously weighty...offers a welcome glimpse of a troubled period of Egypt s history largely forgotten by its British colonisers and an absorbing portrait of a would-be good man destroyed by bad times - Rachel Aspen, Observer
Traces with wonderful subtlety the cultural, historical and gender incompatibilities that inevitably lead to tragedy. It is a haunting but never despairing narrative. - Michael Holroyd, Guardian Books of the Year
A richly textured treat - Boyd Tonkin, Independent Books of the Year
Bahaa Taher was born in 1935 in Cairo, Egypt. He was active in the country's left-wing literary circles of the 1960s and in the mid 1970s was prevented from publishing his work. After many years of exile in Switzerland, he has recently returned to Egypt. Now one of the most widely read novelists in the Arab world, Taher has received the State's Award of Merit in Literature, the highest honour the Egyptian establishment can confer on a writer. He is the author of four collections of short stories, several plays and works of non-fiction, and six novels. In 2008 he was awarded the inaugural International Prize for Arabic Fiction for SUNSET OASIS.