Mahdi Issa al-Saqr was born in Basra in 1930. He worked as a translator with the Basra Petroleum Company and later as personnel superintendent of the Marine Transportation Establishment. He resigned in 1980 to devote himself exclusively to writing. In addition to several collections of short stories, he is the author of seven novels in Arabic, two of which remain unpublished. He died in Baghdad in 2006. Paul Starkey is head of the Arabic Department at the University of Durham, England. He has published widely in the field of modern Arabic literature and was co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature (1998). He is the translator of Edwar al-Kharrat's Stones of Bobello (AUC Press, 2005) and Mansoura Ez Eldin's Maryam's Maze (AUC Press, 2007).