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The Theocrat

This novel takes as its subject one of Arab and Islamic history's most perplexing figures, al-Hakim bi-Amr Illah (the ruler by order of God), the Fatimid caliph who ruled Egypt during the tenth century and whose career was a direct reflection of both the tensions within the Islamic dominions as a whole and of the conflicts within his own mind. In this remarkable novel Bensalem Himmich explores these tensions and conflicts and their disastrous consequences.

Bensalem Himmich has written a number of philosophical works as well as several novels and collections of poems. The Theocrat received the al-Naqid Award and was chosen by the Authors' Union in Egypt as one of the best novels of the twentieth century. His novel The Polymath received the Grand Atlas Award in Rabat and the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in Cairo. Bensalem Himmich is the vice-president of the Moroccan and Arab World Writers' Union and is professor of philosophy at Mohamed V University in Rabat. He was awarded the Sharjah Prize in 2003. Roger Allen is professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He has translated Bensalem Himmich's The Polymath (AUC Press, 200) and other works of Arabic literature.

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