In the Eye of the Sun [NOOK Book]


In the Eye of the Sun is a brilliant novel of cultural collision that reveals, with startling precision, the hidden life of contemporary Arab women as they confront the West. Set in Egypt and England against a backdrop of political upheaval - the 1967 war, the War of Attrition, the advent of Arab socialism, the death of Nasser, the Camp David accords, the bombing of South Lebanon, the rise of the intifada, and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza - it tells of Asya Ulama (literally, "Asia of the ...
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In the Eye of the Sun

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In the Eye of the Sun is a brilliant novel of cultural collision that reveals, with startling precision, the hidden life of contemporary Arab women as they confront the West. Set in Egypt and England against a backdrop of political upheaval - the 1967 war, the War of Attrition, the advent of Arab socialism, the death of Nasser, the Camp David accords, the bombing of South Lebanon, the rise of the intifada, and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza - it tells of Asya Ulama (literally, "Asia of the learned clerics"), an Egyptian woman now living in the north of England as a Ph.D. candidate at an unnamed university. Married to Saif Madi - a prudish, repressed, and often sadistic man - Asya begins an affair with Gerald Stone, a boorish, sexually overwhelming Englishman. Burdened by these unfulfilling relationships and her toilsome graduate study, Asya struggles to reconcile the incongruities of language and culture in her life while confronting the vicissitudes of gender and history. Richly evocative, remarkable for its lyricism and psychological exactness, In the Eye of the Sun is a singular achievement.

Set amidst the turmoil of contemporary Middle Eastern politics, this vivid and highly-acclaimed novel by an Egyptian journalist is an intimate look into the lives of Arab women today. Here, a woman who grows up among the Egyptian elite, marries a Westernized husband, and, while pursuing graduate study, becomes embroiled in a love affair with an uncouth Englishman.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This densely detailed, richly textured novel impeccably recreates the milieus of Cairo, London and English university life as it recounts the maturing of Asya, a beautiful Egyptian who, by her own admission, ``feels more comfortable with art than with life.'' Soueif, a Londoner making her American debut, tells Asya's story cinematically, beginning in 1979 and going back to 1967, with chapters formally divided into scenes and a plethora of flashbacks, flash-forwards and different perspectives. During the course of those years, Asya, daughter of an intellectual Cairo family, falls in love with and marries Saif, a highly successful computer expert who indulges her with considerable luxuries. But the marriage is plagued by sexual problems; going to England to pursue a doctorate, Asya eventually takes up with Gerald, a pseudo-sensitive boor studying marketing. Finally, her marriage over, she returns to a very different and less hospitable Cairo than the one in which she grew up to begin a teaching career about which she is, at best, ambivalent. The author invests scenes of childhood with the burnished glow of fond memory; these are among the most poignant passages here. Her impressive and only slightly overlong novel, with its acutely observed vision of male-female relations as a series of complex power struggles, suggests the emergence of a major new talent. (June)
Library Journal
The war-torn Middle East is a dramatic backdrop for Asya's coming of age. A beautiful Egyptian of wealth and privilege, she is untouched by the wars and turmoil around her and instead focuses on her future husband, Saif, and on her single-minded pursuit of a Ph.D. But Saif's computer business keeps him isolated in the Syrian desert, and Asya's Ph.D. grant lands her in a grim English university where chilly weather and chillier people prevail. Frustrated in marriage and career, she casts about, surviving a disastrous affair and eventually growing into ``complete possession of herself.'' Soueif's novel is an impressive next step forward in time from Naguib Mahfouz's ``Cairo Trilogy'' (e.g., Palace of Desire , LJ 1/91). Its structure, characters, and unique blend of clashing cultures and politics make it an important addition to any collection.-- Paul E. Hutchison, Bellefonte, Pa.
From the Publisher
"Something of a landmark...a bold and important work. [This] is the first novel I know of that successfully renders an Arab, Egyptian Muslim reality in English. A tour de force."—Leila Ahmed, Washington Post Book World
"Raw, accurate, searing....Soueif [is] one ofthe most extraordinary chroniclers of sexual politics now writing."—Edward Said, The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307789259
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/20/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 816
  • Sales rank: 938,445
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Ahdaf Soueif was born in Cairo. She is the author of Aisha, Sandpiper, In the Eye of the Sun and the bestselling novel The Map of Love, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1999. Her collection of cultural and political essays, Mezzaterra, was published in 2004, as was her translation of I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti. She has been awarded the Blue Metropolis Literary Prize (in Montreal) and the Constantin Cavafis Award (in Cairo and Athens), and is also the founder of the Palestine Festival of Literature, PalFest.

Ahdaf Soueif is also a journalist and her work is syndicated throughout the world. For the last five years she has been a key political commentator on Egypt and Palestine, and throughout the 2011 uprisings in Cairo Adhaf Soueif reported front the ground for the Guardian, and appeared on television and radio. She lives in London and Cairo.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2001

    Double Edged Sword

    I really did enjoy reading this book--Soueif's masterful descriptions and fascinating characters make this easy--however, I found that I really did not sympathize much with the protagonist, Asya. I should have, though. Asya is growing up in the 70s in a Muslim country that is experiencing internal and external political turmoil. Asya was not raised as a traditional Muslim; her parents are intellectuals who seem to merely go through the motions where their religious lives are concerned. They seem more worried about following social constructs than religious ones. Not that there's anything wrong with that, per se. However, it does seem to cripple Asya in some ways, as she is too high and mighty to be really Egyptian, yet she is too Egyptian to be truly European. She doesn't understand what she wants to be, let alone what she should be. She looks to her mother, girlfriends, and husband for guidance, but each gives a different answer. Plus, she has no internal moral compass to guide her. She was bound to let someone down, including the reader, who comes to want nothing but the best for her in her life. That said, this novel was amazing. Soueif was really able to capture this character well, as well as the other characters. But you should be careful not to mistake the Egyptian characters of Asya's family and friends in her social stratum as typical Egyptians. But I found myself longing for a different story as I read this one--a story of devout Muslim people trying to live Muslim, Arabic lives in a changing country, a changing world. The characters in this novel are very Western in their thoughts and desires--a result of years of occupation by Western nations. What's more, the narrator and Asya both appear to have contempt for devout Muslims and for country people, and they look to Europe for all things civilized and proper, and from what I've read, that is not an unusual opinion for modern Egyptians of the upper classes. How unfortunate they seem to me as I consider the pyramids...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2000

    highly recommended

    this book addresses the internal as well as the social conflicts that arab women face at home or abroad when exposed to the western ideas or simply struggling with their internal natural impulses. This book will give you an insight into the arabic way of living and will highlight the stuggles of women in that part of the world.

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