For September we’re reading عزازيل، يوسف زيدان / Azazeel by Egyptian author Youssef Ziedan, which won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009. It was translated by Jonathan Wright.
A brief summary of the book from IPAF:
“Set in the fifth century AD in Upper Egypt, Alexandria and northern Syria, Azazel presents two parallel fights of the new religion (Christianity) and its believers on the one side and the old pagan religions and their believers on the other side. The other parallel fight takes place inside the monk Hiba whose life is a permanent fight between the two elements of his personality: the heavenly and the earthly elements, the pagan and the Christian. Zidan’s Azazel is far more complex than that of the religious mythologies: he tempts Hiba into doing evil things, only to prove through the monk’s inner discourse, that this evil is nothing but a human’s purest repressed wishes. The author has set tricky tasks for his two protagonists, Azazel and Hiba alike: Azazel’s tough challenge was to free a monk of his religious limits, and Hiba’s challenge was to handle a conflict between his human and divine halves.”
Here is a review from The Guardian. If you can get your hands on a paper copy of Banipal 34, take a look at Abdo Wazen’s piece The Anger over Azazeel, or look at Margaret Obank’s review of Azazeel in Banipal 45.
We’ll meet to discuss on Saturday, September 22 2012.