This multi-layered novel about the depths of human experience and the struggle between polarities, on the surface presents a love story of unrequited passion between Rama—the symbol of multiplicity and creativity—and Mikhail—the symbol of unity and constancy. Their story reflects the relationship not only between man and woman, Copt and Muslim, but also between Upper and Lower Egypt. Through a delicate grid of intertextual references and juxtaposed narratives, the dreams and hopes, fears and defeats of Rama and Mikhail move from the local to the global, corresponding to human dreams and anxieties everywhere. In this novel, Edwar al-Kharrat has created a unique form of narrative discourse in which he presents Egyptian realities and actualities of the 1960s and 1970s, with flashbacks to as early as the 1940s, in an aesthetic form that highlights historical moments while blending philosophical, mythical, and psychological perspectives in a literary parallel to the cinematic technique of montage. In their citation awarding al-Kharrat the Mahfouz Medal, the judges stated: “Rama and the Dragon is considered a breakthrough in the literary history of modern Arabic fiction.”
Rama and the Dragon
An Egyptian Novel
This multi-layered novel about the depths of human experience and the struggle between polarities, on the surface presents a love story of unrequited
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.
Ferial Ghazoul is an Iraqi scholar, critic, and translator. She is professor of English and comparative literature at the American University in Cairo and editor of Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics. She has translated modern Arabic poetry and fiction to English and critical theory from English and French to Arabic.