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Description - The Seven Veils of Seth by Ibrahim Al-Koni

In the ancient Egyptian religion, Seth is the evil god who out of jealousy slays his brother Osiris, the good god of agriculture, to seize the throne. Seth is, however, also the god of the desert and therefore a benevolent champion of desert dwellers like the traditionally nomadic Kel Tamasheq, better known as the Tuareg. In "The Seven Veils of Seth", the world-renowned, Libyan, Tuareg author Ibrahim al-Koni draws on the tension between these two opposing visions of Seth to create a novel that also provides a vivid account of daily life in a Tuareg oasis. Isan, the novel's protagonist, is either Seth himself or a latter-day avatar. A desert-wandering seer and proponent of desert life, he settles for an extended stay in a fertile oasis. If Jack Frost, the personification of the arrival of winter, were to visit a tropical rain forest, the results might be similarly disastrous.Not surprisingly, since this is a novel by Ibrahim al-Koni, infanticide, uxoricide, serial adultery, betrayal, metamorphosis, murder by a proxy animal, ordinary murder, and a life-threatening chase through the desert all figure in the plot, although the novel is also an existential reflection on the purpose of human life. Ibrahim al-Koni typically layers allusions in his works as if he were an artist adding a suggestion of depth to a painting by applying extra washes. Tuareg folklore, Egyptian mythology, Russian literature, and medieval European thought elbow each other for room on the page. One might expect a novel called "The Seven Veils of Seth" to be a heavy-handed allegory. Instead, the reader is left wondering. The truth is elusive, a mirage pulsing at the horizon.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781859642023
ISBN-10: 1859642020
Format: Paperback
(216mm x 138mm x 20mm)
Pages: 312
Imprint: Garnet Publishing Ltd
Publisher: Garnet Publishing Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Jun-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Ibrahim Al-Koni

IBRAHIM al-KONI, winner of the 2005 Mohamed Zafzaf Award for the Arabic Novel, is a Libyan Tuareg who writes in Arabic. He studied comparative literature at the Gorky Institute in Moscow, and was a journalist in Moscow and Warsaw. He has lived in Switzerland since 1993, and authored over 50 novels, short stories, poems and aphorisms, all inspired by the desert. Some works have been translated into 35 languages, including eight into German and six into French. WILLIAM MAYNARD HUTCHINS is a professor in the Philosophy & Religion Department of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, USA. He began learning Arabic while teaching at the Gerard School for Boys in Sidon, Lebanon. He studied at Berea, Yale and the University of Chicago, and began translating Arabic literature as a postgraduate student, starting with some of the epistles of al-Jahiz (Peter Lang). During his time teaching at the University of Ghana in Legon he began translating the plays of Tawfiq al-Hakim, and later published a two-volume collection (published by Three Continents Press). He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for Literary Translation in 2005-6 for his translation of The Seven Veils of Seth by the Libyan Tuareg author Ibrahim al-Koni (Garnet Publishing) and a second one in 2012 for, also by al-Koni (Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas, January 2014). His translations of Arabic novels include Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street, and Cairo Modern by Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz (Anchor Books) and his 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prizewinning translation of A Land Without Jasmine by Wajdi al-Ahdal (Garnet, 2012).

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