A Tuareg youth ventures into trackless desert on a life-threatening quest to find the father he remembers only as a shadow from his childhood, but the spirit world frustrates and tests his resolve. For a time, he is rewarded with the Eden of a lost oasis, but eventually, as new settlers crowd in, its destiny mimics the rise of human civilization. In this novel, fantastic mythology becomes universal, specific, and modern. The Libyan Tuareg author Ibrahim al-Koni, who has earned a reputation as a major figure in Arabic literature with his many novels and collections of short stories, has used Tuareg folklore about Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld, to craft a novel that is both a lyrical evocation of the desert's beauty and a chilling narrative.
Ibrahim al-Koni was born in Libya in 1948. A Tuareg who writes in Arabic, he studied comparative literature at the Gorky Institute in Moscow and then worked as a journalist in Moscow and Warsaw. In 2010, he received the Arab Novel Award and dedicated the value of the prize to the children of the Tuareg tribes from which he originally hails. William Maynard Hutchins, the principal translator of Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy (AUC Press 1990 - 92), has taught English, philosophy, Arabic, and Islamic Studies in Lebanon, Ghana, Egypt, and France. His most recent book is Tawfiq al-Hakim: A Reader's Guide.