Fiction in Translation
English edition  
November  2008
176 pp.
Hardbound
12.5X20 cm
$19.95
LE100
ISBN 9789774161889
For sale worldwide

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Heads Ripe for Plucking

Mahmoud Al-Wardani
Translated by Hala Halim

An avant-garde tale of beheadings both literal and metaphorical

An Arab tyrant once infamously declared, “I see heads that are ripe for plucking.” In Mahmoud Al-Wardani’s novel of tyranny and oppression, an impaled head seeks solace in narrating similar woes it sustained in previous incarnations. Beheadings, both literal and metaphorical—torture, murder, decapitation, brainwashing, losing one’s head—are the subject of the six stories that unfold. The narrative takes us from the most archetypal beheading in Arabo-Islamic history, that of al-Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, via a crime passionel, the torture of Communists in Nasser’s prisons, the meanderings of a Cairene teenager unwittingly caught in the bread riots of 1977, a body dismembered in the 1991 Gulf War, and a bloodless beheading on the eve of the new millennium, into a dystopic future where heads are periodically severed to undergo maintenance and downloading of programs.
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Mahmoud Al-Wardani, born in Cairo in 1950, is a writer and cultural journalist. He is the author of six novels and three collections of short stories. Hala Halim teaches at New York University. Her translation of Mohamed El-Bisatie’s Clamor of the Lake (AUC Press, 2004) won an Egyptian State Incentive Award.

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