This multi-layered novel about the depths of human experience and the struggle between polarities, on the surface presents a love story of unrequited passion between Rama and Mikhail. Their story reflects the relationship not only between man and woman, Copt and Muslim, but also between Upper and Lower Egypt. Through a delicate grid of intertextual references and juxtaposed narratives, the dreams and hopes, fears and defeats of Rama and Mikhail move from the local to the global, corresponding to human dreams and anxieties everywhere.
Edwar al-Kharrat was born, raised, and educated in Alexandria. His first book of short stories, High Walls, was published in 1959. Since then he has written novels, criticism, and poetry. He is the winner of numerous international awards, including the Cavafi Prize. Ferial Ghazoul is an Iraqi scholar, critic, and translator. She is professor of English and comparative literature at the American University in Cairo and has written extensively on gender issues in modern and medieval literature. John Verlenden is a writing instructor in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo, and an anthologized writer of short stories. He and Dr. Ghazoul won the King Fahd translation prize from University of Arkansas in 1997 for Egyptian poet Muhammad Afifi Matar's Quartet of Joy.