|In The Eye of The Sun|
accurate, unendingly searing. Soueif is one of the most extraordinary
chroniclers of sexual politics now writing.”
"A masterpiece." Anthony Thwaite, Sunday Telegraph
Egypt, for the English, has been a sort of literary dreamland. For centuries, novelists and poets have ‘used’ it as a device for measuring of distances – distances between East and West, old and new, magic and reason, hot and cold. But these so-called orientalists have essentially been tourists; they have looked at Egypt from without, from England and from an English point of view. And the Egyptians have now and then looked back. In their own literature, largely inaccessible to us, there are English characters, English travelers and officials, but no great dream of England, no answering curiosity, no powerful wish to know what it is about us that makes us dream of them.
In the Eye of the Sun is a significant, near-miraculous original: ‘The Great English Novel about Egypt’ which is also ‘The Great Egyptian Novel about England’. Ahdaf Soueif, born and brought up in Egypt, has lived for long periods in England. She knows us as we cannot know her. In Cairo, she has dreamed about London; in London, she has dreamed - in English – about home. Her first book, the acclaimed Aisha, afforded some splendid glimpses of a sensibility poised between two cultures, two realms of understanding – seeing them not as they are usually seen, in opposition, but as two aspects of what she, the writer, has become.In In the Eye of the Sun, we get not merely glimpses but a steady, shaped unfolding: a love story, a story about growing up, a story about what it’s like to be a woman (East and West), a story about the history of the post-imperial Middle East during the last thirty or so perplexed and bloody years, a story about home.
Egypt will want to claim this moving, shrewd and often very funny novel as her own, but so will we. Ahdaf Soueif will know that it belongs to her and to the world – a world whose often deadly misapprehensions she has so wisely and passionately clarified.
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