In Egypt a new era has dawned, but the dawn has taken an ominous turn. President Gamal Abdel Nasser has just proclaimed the first in a series of nationalization decrees, the stock exchange has shut down, and its parking attendant, Sayyid, is staring at penury. Across the street, the office of the Ministry Supervisory Board of Administrative Organization is engulfed in an eerie silence, and the narrator, one of the two remaining fulltime occupants of that nearly defunct government office, has fallen desperately in love with the other, Doha forceful, erudite, and a complete enigma, with a spiritual bond to the Egyptian goddess Aset. In this sophisticated, richly textured novel the author explores such themes as apathy and despair, courage and self-sacrifice, ambition and temptation, disillusionment and political faith, and, above all, commitment and betrayal.
Bahaa Taher was born in 1935 in Luxor and published his first short story in 1964. After living in Switzerland in the 1980s and ’90s, he returned to Egypt and received much literary acclaim. He received the State Award of Merit in Literature, Egypt’s highest honour for writing, in 1998. In 2008 Bahaa Taher became the first writer to be awarded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (the ‘Arabic booker’) for his novel Sunset Oasis.