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Booker Prize Finalist
With her first novel, In the Eye of the Sun, Ahdaf Soueif garnered comparisons to Tolstoy, Flaubert, and George Eliot. In her latest novel, which was shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize, she combines the romantic skill of the nineteenth-century novelists with a very modern sense of culture and politics—both sexual and international.
At either end of the twentieth century, two women fall in love with men outside their familiar worlds. In 1901, Anna Winterbourne, recently widowed, leaves England for Egypt, an outpost of the Empire roiling with nationalist sentiment. Far from the comfort of the British colony, she finds herself enraptured by the real Egypt and in love with Sharif Pasha al-Baroudi. Nearly a hundred years later, Isabel Parkman, a divorced American journalist and descendant of Anna and Sharif has fallen in love with Omar al-Ghamrawi, a gifted and difficult Egyptian-American conductor with his own passionate politics. In an attempt to understand her conflicting emotions and to discover the truth behind her heritage, Isabel, too, travels to Egypt, and enlists Omar’s sister’s help in unravelling the story of Anna and Sharif’s love.
Joining the romance and intricate storytelling of A.S. Byatt’s Possession and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Ahdaf Soueif has once again created a mesmerizing tale of genuine eloquence and lasting importance.
“Vivid, passionate and shedding, as true love does, a brilliant, revealing light on the world beyond itself.”—The Sunday Telegraph (London)
“Epic.... Soueif is at her most eloquent on the subject of her homeland, her prose rich with historical detail and debate. Ultimately, Egypt emerges as the true heroine of this novel.”—The Independent (London)
“A magnificent work, reminiscent of Marquez and Allende in its breadth and confidence.”—The Guardian
“A bold and vibrant novel.... This is political fiction that is also unashamedly romantic.... A triumphant achievement.”—Penelope Lively, Literary Review