by Bahaa Taher
When Mahmoud Abd El Zahir is sent to govern the remote Egyptian oasis of Siwa in the late 1890s, he knows the danger he faces – two of his predecessors were murdered. But having been accused of disloyalty to the current regime and its British overlords, he has little choice. Rather than stay behind in Cairo, his Irish wife Catherine insists on going too, hoping to reinvigorate their relationship. Once at Siwa, Mahmoud finds himself not only fiercely resented but caught between two warring factions, while Catherine, with her Western ways and seemingly avaricious interest in the local archaeological sites, succeeds in alienating the entire community – all except for a beautiful young woman, herself an outcast, whose attempt at friendship spells disaster. In this fascinating novel, Bahaa Taher weaves together several voices to capture a society at war with itself and a marriage in trouble. At once a complex tale of love and an exploration of power, occupation and rebellion, SUNSET OASIS tells of people struggling to free themselves from the grip of the past. It is a striking, haunting work by one of the Arab world’s most celebrated writers.