Dublin is alien territory for young and impoverished Egyptian academic Mutazz, who is preparing a PhD on Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Mutazz has enough problems with his family's high expectations and the unrequited, idealized love that he left behind in Cairo. Now he has to deal with cantankerous landlords, the inscrutable local women, the Irish judiciary, haunted seminaries, and cold winter nights selling flowers on the banks of the Liffey to make ends meet. His own personal demons travel with him, especially the clash between his sexual desires and his reluctance to become emotionally entangled with anyone other than his version of the ideal woman. In his year away from home Mutazz learns how diverse the world is, but returning to Cairo is a shock that tests his physical and mental strength.
Bahaa Abdelmegid, with a Ph.D. in English literature from Ain Shams University, is a visiting professor at Oxford University. He is the author of two collections of short stories and four novels, including Saint Theresa and Sleeping with Strangers (AUC Press, 2010). Jonathan Wright is the translator of a number of Arabic novels including Rasha Al Ameer's Judgment Day (AUC Press, 2011) and Fahd al-Atiq's Life on Hold (AUC Press, 2012). He was awarded the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan.