Fiction in Translation
English edition  
May  2008
216 pp.
Hardbound
12.5X20 cm
$18.95
LE100
ISBN 9789774161773
For sale only in the Middle East

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Distant Train

Ibrahim Abdel Meguid
Translated by Hosam M. Aboul-Ela

A new novel from the author of No One Sleeps in Alexandria

While the fading autumn sun sped toward the horizon, the young boys headed home—they were not used to trying to see at night without the moon’s glow.” So begins this unconventional, hauntingly mythic novel. In the tradition of magical-realism, Ibrahim Abdel Meguid 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 Abdel Meguid’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 Ibrahim Abdel Meguid’s status as a new, imaginative, and distinct voice in the field of narrative literature and the time-honored arena of storytelling.
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Ibrahim Abdel Meguid’s novel The Other Place was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature and was published by the AUC Press in 1997. He is also the author of No One Sleeps in Alexandria and Birds of Amber (AUC Press, 1999 and 2005). Hosam Aboul-Ela is an assistant professor of English at the University of Houston.

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“Meguid’s prose is lush, and possessed with Marquezesque charm, and the novel’s final message is hopeful: life must be seized, and cherished; salvation, whatever its form, will not come on its own.”—Publishers Weekly

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