This subtle novel by one of Egypt's increasingly eminent writers concerns Egyptian society under the Sadat regime. Khalil Mansour, an intellectual once imprisoned for political activism and now seeking to withdraw, is reluctantly involved in a strike by workers who are opposing the takeover of their company by a Western multinational. He and the strike leaders are fired, and Khalil - now demoralized - becomes obsessed with a young American woman for who he leaves his self-reliant wife and baby son. Powerless against political corruption, the secret policy, the CIA, self-seeking cynicism and sycophancy in high places - The Net closing around him - Khalil becomes the victim of political expediency, condemned to die for a murder he did not commit.
A searing commentary on the moral changes wrought by the Sadat era on Egyptian society.
Sherif Hetata was first arrested when, on completion of his medical studies in the mid-forties, he became involved in the turbulent politics of post-war Egypt. In 1950 he escaped from prison and fled to Paris, where he spent a brief year of freedom. Returning secretly to Egypt, he was eventually caught and sentences to ten years' penal servitude. Two of these were spent in iron shackles working in a stone quarry. On his release in 1966 he worked first in the Ministry of Health - where he met and married the feminist and writer Nawal El Saadawi - and then for the United Nations. In 1980 he gave up his job to devote himself to writing. His earlier novel, The Eye with an Iron Lid, was first published in English in 1982.