Azazeel. Yousef Ziedan by Yusuf Zaydan

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In Jonathan Wright's supple translation there are memorable passages, from a monkey shaking dry dates from a palm, to the perilous pleasure of swimming in the buoyant sea rather than the crocodile-infested Nile.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Set in the 5th century AD, Azazeel is the exquisitely crafted tale of a Coptic monk's journey from Upper Egypt to Alexandria and then Syria during a time of massive upheaval in the early Church. The monk, Hepa, embarks on a journey both physical and spiritual, encountering the devil, Azazeel, and the hardship of severe temptation. At times able to resist, while at others bending to the strengths of his desire, Hepa learns that physical pleasure and spiritual enlightenment can be two sides of the same coin. Winner of the Arab Booker Prize, Azazeel highlights how the history of our civilization has been warped by greed and avarice since its very beginnings and how one man's beliefs are challenged not only by the malice of the devil, but by the corruption with the early Church. In sparse and often sparkling prose that reflects the arid beauty of the Syrian landscape, Azazeel is a novel that forces us to re-think many of our long-held beliefs and invites us to rediscover a lost history.
 

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Published April 1, 2012 by Atlantic. 320 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Maya Jaggi on May 04 2012

In Jonathan Wright's supple translation there are memorable passages, from a monkey shaking dry dates from a palm, to the perilous pleasure of swimming in the buoyant sea rather than the crocodile-infested Nile.

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