Published in 1965.
The main character of this novel is Omar al-Hamzawi. He is a big, broad man, and 45 years of age. The book opens with him going to visit a doctor, who is one of his close friends from his youth. Omar describes his predicament to Mustapha al-Minyawi, the doctor, and we learn that he has become sick of life. Omar is a very successful lawyer, with a beautiful wife and two daughters. They are wealthy and live a relaxed life, though before Omar’s “illness,” he was a workaholic, but only because that’s what he loved doing. Now, however, Omar is lethargic and can’t find meaning or happiness in life. We then learn that in his youth Omar was a poet and a socialist. He gave up both in order to become a lawyer, and now he can no longer find meaning in his life. He met his wife Zeinab in his youth. She was a Christian called Kamelia Fouad and she converted to Islam, and her family disowned her in marrying him. As his malady grows he becomes more distant from her. As time progresses, Omar’s illness gets worse. He tries to escape his condition with love. He first meets a singer named Margaret. He instantly is attracted to her, but before anything can happen she suddenly leaves abroad. He next meets Warda, and exotic dancer. Omar and Warda fall in love, and he sets up a home for them and leaves his wife. However, his affair with Warda soon loses its interest, and Omar finds himself deeper in depression than ever. He then goes through a succession of women, mostly prostitutes, every night. One day at dawn he goes out to the pyramids and for a brief moment he feels extreme joy and like he is one with the universe. The sensation quickly passes though, and he is unable to win this feeling back. He returns home, but feels extremely oppressed and restless. Soon after, Othman Khalil turns up in Omar’s office. Othman was one of Omar’s close socialist friends form his youth who had been caught by police. Though he was tortured, he never...
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