It’s bustling 1960s Beirut, and our young protagonist spends his days in his father and uncle’s bakery, admiring female customers, observing the colourful characters, and listening in on fascinating grown-up conversations about everything from jaundice to the occult. The rest of the time he’s off with his friends, learning to smoke and spying on women.
For the men working inside the bakery life is starkly different. Working endless shifts in the furious heat of the old bread oven, they fantasize about escape. Mohammed sings all day long in his beautiful tenor voice, while the others lean exhausted on sacks of flour and dream of becoming wrestlers.
When his father acquires the revolutionary new bread-making machine, the workers struggle to adapt to the new conditions, and one by one their dreams fade into oblivion …
About the Author
Hassan Daoud is chief editor of Nawafez (Windows), the cultural supplement for Al Mustaqbal Daily in Beirut. He has also served as cultural editor and contributor to various Lebanese national newspapers. His novels include The House of Mathilde, The Penguin's Song and Borrowed Time (Telegram).
About the Translator
Randa Jarrar is an American novelist, short story writer, and translator. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved to New York at the age of 13. She has taught Creative Writing and Arab-American literature.
'This is a charming and often very funny tale of industrial and personal progress.'
'The dynamic in this engaging piece of fiction comes from the energy of the young men who flit around the city smoking, talking and watching, but also from the change in the bakeries themselves, as new machinery alters the way things have always been done.'
The Daily Mail