This highly charged fable set in Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 1960s, centers on the guests of the Pension Miramar as they compete for the attention of the young servant Zohra. Zohra is a beautiful peasant girl who fled her family to escape an arranged marriage. She becomes the focus of jealousies and conflicts among the Miramar's residents, who include an assortment of radicals and aristocrats floundering in the wake of the Egyptian revolution. It becomes clear that the uneducated but strong-willed Zohra is the only one among them who knows what she wants. As the situation spirals toward violence and tragedy, the same sequence of events is retold from the perspective of four different residents, in the manner of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, weaving a nuanced portrait of the intricacies of post-revolutionary Egyptian life.
by Naguib Mahfouz
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