May Telmissany’s novel is the story of a woman who suffers one of life’s greatest tragedies, the loss of her child. We read about the months of anticipation, the trauma of the event and the devastating effect on herself and those surrounding her. The book explores in great detail the slow and agonizing process of recovery, both physical and psychological, and the ways in which the narrator wills herself to pick up the shattered pieces of her life.
But Dunyazad is also a penetrating portrait of a country, Egypt, whose citizens are caught in a never-ending spiral of change and aspirations. The novel is set against the backdrop of Egypt’s new middle-class where the crushing will to conform to societal and class norms – the Egyptian version of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ – is present amid the never-ending bustle of Cairo and the pressures of the housing market.
About the Author
May Telmissany was born in Cairo in 1965. She has an MA in French Literature from Cairo University and is currently preparing her doctoral thesis at the University of Montreal on the representation of the 'Hara' (the popular neighborhood) in Egyptian cinema. Her publications include Dunyazad (Saqi Books).
About the Translator
Roger Allen is Professor of Arabic Language and Literature in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published over fifty articles on Arabic literature and has produced a number of translations of modern Arabic narrative.
'Subtly sketched ... etched with energy and tenderness.'
Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'This book has to be one of the best recent Arabic novels to appear in English.'
Richard Woffenden, Cairo Times