Edwar al-Kharrat was born in Alexandria in 1926. Among his awards are the prestigious Oweiss Prize (the Arab world’s highest mark of acclaim for writers and intellectuals) and the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for his novel Rama and the Dragon (AUC Press, 2002). He was awarded the state merit Award for Literature in 2000. PAUL STARKEY teaches Arabic language and literature at the University of Durham, where he is currently director of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. He is the author of a study of the Egyptian author Tawfiq al-Hakim and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. He has also translated Rashid al-Daif’s novel Dear Mr Kawabata into English.