Man from Bashmour, The
by Bakr, Salwa
This is a historical novel of medieval Egypt. Egypt in the ninth century AD: an Arab, Muslim ruling class governs a country of mostly Coptic-speaking Christians. After an exorbitant land tax imposed by the caliph’s governors sparks a peasant revolt, Bedeir is dispatched to the marshlands of the Nile Delta as an escort for a church-appointed emissary whose mission is to persuade the rebels to lay down their arms. But he is soon caught up in a swirl of events and concerns that alter the course of his life irrevocably, setting him on a path he could never have foreseen. The events that befall him and the insights he gains from them bring about a gradual but inexorable personal transformation, through which his eyes are opened to the fundamental commonalities – practical, spiritual, and existential – that bind Muslims and Copts, and he emerges as an emissary of a new sort. Hailed as a groundbreaking treatment of otherwise neglected aspects of medieval history, “The Man from Bashmour” is an exploration of the Egyptian character past and present, and offers insights into Egyptian thought on everything from love, philosophy, and religion to life and death.