This novel is set in an idyllic Egyptian village from the time it was discovered by Muhammad Ali's mission in the early nineteenth century to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, movingly intertwining events on the world scene with the life dramas of its protagonists. The story opens with the pivotal character, Mubarka al-Fuli, now a grandmother and matriarch, wanting to dictate a letter to God for her grandson to send to the Almighty by email. We are then ushered back in time to Mubarka's fiery adolescence and her painfully aborted romance with Muntasir, son of the village's deceased but legendary strongman. The shifting fortunes of the al-Deeb clan affect every aspect of its members' lives, from their sexual vulnerabilities to the grief of loss, the uncertainties of a changing world, and the heartaches born of betrayal, and love unfulfilled.
Ezzat El Kamhawi, an Egyptian novelist and journalist, was born in 1961 and studied journalism at Cairo University. He is the editor-in-chief of al-Doha Cultural Magazine. He is the author of ten books, including four novels and two collections of short stories. Nancy Roberts is the translator of Salwa Bakr's The Man from Bashmour (AUC Press, 2007), for which she received a commendation in the Saif Ghobash - Banipal Prize for Translation. Her most recent translations are Ibrahim Nasrallah's Time of White Horses (AUC Press, 2012), and Abdulaziz Al Farsi's Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs (AUC Press, 2013).