Distant Train

by Abdel Meguid, Ibrahim

In the tradition of magical-realism, author Ibrahim Abdel Megid crafts a tale steeped in symbolism. Writing in a shimmering lyrical style he brings alive the dreams, customs, and everyday concerns of people living in historic obscurity on the fringe of the glitzy, petrodollar kingdoms of the Middle East. The tale begins on a worksite in Egypt’s western desert. Here, in the middle of nowhere, railway men and locals wait in hope for the annual return of a “distant train.” When last it came this vehicle brought with it foreigners, soldiers – and economic opportunity; then it stopped. Each of Megid’s characters is allegorical in nature. Each part of the novel is framed by memory and the way remembrance takes shape and affects the characters. The story’s main characters are time and place. Yet its dramatic thrust is the way in which place gives rise to history through the passage of time and the rise and fall of settlement. “Distant Train” reaffirms Megid’s status as a new, imaginative, and distinct voice in the field of narrative literature and the time-honoured arena of storytelling.