Foreword by Robin Ostle
Translated by Desmond Stirling Stewart
About the Book
A twelve-year old boy returns from school in Cairo to find his village torn by feuding and fear. A corrupt official has decreed that the peasants must irrigate their fields in five days instead of the customary ten – a demand that threatens to severely disrupt the life of this small community. It will take something extraordinary for the villagers to overcome the greedy ruling-class.
The schoolmaster Sheikh Hassouna urges the villagers to stand together if they want to keep custody of the land they have lived on for generations. But it takes many attempts, some disastrous, others comical and touching, before they join forces against their oppressors.
Egyptian Earth was first published in 1954, two years after the Egyptian revolution. An epic drama of great power, it is a masterpiece of modern Arabic literature.
About the Author
Abdel Rahman al-Sharqawi (1920–1987) was a highly acclaimed writer and a pioneer of the innovative movement in Arabic poetry. Born into a peasant family in the Egyptian province of Menoufia, al-Sharqawi’s first works were published while he was a student at the University of Cairo. A prominent political activist, al-Sharqawi was mainly involved in the defence of democracy, social justice, religious tolerance and true faith. His novels, short stories, poetry and plays were highly regarded for their realism and commitment to social issues. His first novel, Egyptian Earth, is one of the most successful Egyptian novels ever published and was made into a popular film by the well-known director Youssef Chahine.
About the Translator
Desmond Stirling Stewart was a British writer and journalist. He worked in Baghdad, Beirut and Cairo for many years and published several books about Egyptian and Arabic culture and history.
‘A remarkable and often funny book . . . A classic of modern Egyptian literature.’ The Observer
‘An acknowledged masterpiece of modern Arabic literature.’ University Press Book News
‘This is a classic novel . . . an achievement in fiction.’ Race & Class
‘Egyptian Earth deserves renewed attention as a compelling contribution to international literature.’ In These Times
‘A great playwright and brilliant writer’ International Journal of Research in Social Sciences