In a desperate attempt to save his mother and two sisters from famine and disease, a young man leaves his native village in Sudan and sets out alone to seek work in the city. This is the beginning of Hamza’s long journey. Hunger and destitution lead him ever farther from his home: first from Sudan to Egypt, where the lack of work forces him to join a band of smugglers, and finally from Egypt to Europe—Italy, France, Holland—where he experiences first-hand the harsh world of migrant laborers and the bitter realities of life as an illegal immigrant. Tarek Eltayeb’s first novel offers an uncompromising depiction of poverty in both the developed and the developing world. With its simple yet elegant style, Cities without Palms tells of a tragic human life punctuated by moments of true joy.
Cities without Palms
Tarek Eltayeb was born to Sudanese parents in Cairo in 1959, and has lived in Vienna since 1984. He studied at the Institute for Economic Philosophy at Vienna’s University of Economics, and currently teaches at three Austrian universities. He has published two novels, two collections of short stories, five collections of poetry, one play, and an autobiography. His works have been translated into German, English, Italian, French, Spanish, Macedonian, Romanian, and Serbian. He is a faculty member of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He received the Elias Cannetti Fellowship of the City of Vienna in 2005 and the International Grand Prize for Poetry at the 2007 Curtea de Arge? Festival in Romania. In 2008, he was appointed Austrian Ambassador for the European Year for Intercultural Dialogue. In the same year, he received the Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria. His first novel, Cities without Palms, was published in English translation by the AUC Press in 2009. Further information about his life and work can be found at www.eltayeb.at.