Arabic Literature
English edition  
Feb  2007
144 pp.
Hardbound
12.5X20 cm
$16.95
LE100
ISBN 978 977 416 051 6
For sale worldwide

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Pyramid Texts

Gamal al-Ghitani
Translated by Humphrey Davies

An extraordinary new novel from the author of Zayni Barakat

With its Sufistic parables of the human condition, rendered in a style redolent of both the austere meditations of Borges and the dark engorged ruminations of Arthur C. Clark, Pyramid Texts engages the mind and beguiles the imagination. In a series of chapters each shorter than the last—so that, like their subjects, they taper ultimately into nothingness—the author evokes the obsessions that have drawn men over the centuries to the brooding presence of mankind’s most ancient and mysterious monuments. Among others in a procession of exotic characters, a Moroccan seeker after knowledge spends years contemplating the pyramids in the hope that one day he will understand the mysterious writing that fitfully appears on their sides. Another waits patiently for the moment when the shadow of one will diverge from its accustomed path and bestow immortality, and the Sphinx performs a celestial dance. Pyramid Texts leads us into a world of endless passages and mysterious sighing winds, a world whose claustrophobic and shadowy spaces may be illuminated by flashes of ecstasy leading to scintillating transfigurations and dizzying annihilations.

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Gamal al-Ghitani was born in 1945. He has written thirteen novels, including Zayni Barakat (AUC Press, 2004), and six collections of short stories. He is editor-in-chief of the literary review Akhbar al-adab. Humphrey Davies is the translator of The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (AUC Press, 2004) and Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury, for which he was awarded the Banipal Prize for Literary Translation. He was awarded the 2010 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Yalo by Elias Khoury.

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Humphrey Davies talks about the realities and challenges of translating from Arabic. Click here for the interview.

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“The experience of reading al-Ghitani’s Pyramid Texts leaves you feeling spellbound. . . . The levels of meaning behind the flawless formal beauty are as countless as the number of the pyramid’s stones.”—Al-Ahram Hebdo “Inspired by the immediacy of Ibn Arabi, al-Ghitani leads us through the mirages and trompe l’oeils of the pyramids and their perennial fascination across the centuries. . . . A beautiful and tantalizing work.”—Juan Goytisolo, author of The Garden of Secrets and State of Siege “Gamal al-Ghitani’s latest novel is a new and exciting experiment in narrative writing; approaching the spirit of the place and the essence of ancient culture, and taking on captivating forms that have never before been introduced in Arabic fiction with such a poetic rhythm . . . Pyramid Texts fills a gap by illuminating the distant links between Egypt’s spirit, as embodied in the prodigious stones of the pyramids, and the creative imagination of the author”—Dr. Salah Fadl

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