In a fictional Gulf country, with its gleaming glass towers and imported greenery, the routine of day-to-day life is suddenly interrupted when the national football team qualifies for the World Cup. The Emir issues an edict ordering all native Emiratis to travel to France to support the team, leaving the country to the care of its imported labor. How do they handle such newly found freedom? As though steered by a perverse blend between Dante and Scheherezade, we descend layer by layer beneath the facade of modernity: from the colorful multilingual throngs rejoicing for the Emirati team to the hierarchies that underpin them, from the luxurious gardens and swimming pools into the darker secrets of the bedroom, from the rigid and inhibiting strictures of the present to a remote age of innocence. Three narratives interweave to form a tight and thought-provoking examination of the psychology of control.
Mohamed El-Bisatie is the author of a number of novels and short story collections, including A Last Glass of Tea (AUC Press, 1994), Houses behind the Trees (AUC Press, 1997), Clamor of the Lake (AUC Press, 2004), Over the Bridge (AUC Press, 2006), and Hunger (AUC Press, 2008). He was awarded the prestigious Oweiss Prize in 2001.