In this disturbing allegorical novel (first published in 1981), the acclaimed Egyptian author who seems poised to inherit the mantle of Naguib Mahfouz traces a nameless narrator's victimization by an indistinct judicial authority known only as "the committee." An arrest for unspecified crimes is followed by sexual humiliation, then a directive that the narrator (a writer and scholar) research the life and works of an Arab "luminary" materially involved in Anwar Sadat's "globalization" efforts, and finally an act of violence to which he is driven by continuing "official" disapproval and round-the-clock surveillance. This eerie updating of Kafka's classic fable The Trial
possesses both uncanny contemporary relevance and, in its surreal climax and dénouement, tremendous narrative and symbolic force.
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