Set in the harsh desert of eastern Egypt, Seeds of Corruption is the tale of a Ulysses-like hero in search of himself and his ultimate salvation. The novel becomes a singularly compelling play between the peace and desolation of the desert, the corruption of the dissolute Egyptian king and his court, the purity of the hero’s daughter, and the simple dignity of the fishermen and desert Bedouins. Seeds of Corruption eloquently portrays the corruption of the Egyptian monarchy and the aristocracy before 1952 as aided by foreign influence. Nicola, a mine engineer of European background, must decide his true identity. Is he an exploiter, like his bourgeois business partner, or is he more like the people of the desert whom he admires so deeply for their ancestral dignity and sense of honor? The novel offers a vivid and colorful panorama of the Eastern desert by the Red Sea. Such a distant place is a refreshing departure and Moussa’s style is rich in imagery and metaphors, making this book a masterpiece of fine Arabic writing.
Sabri Moussa is one of Egypt’s leading novelists and a recipient of the Egyptian Literary Prize with great merit. He is a journalist and a former Baghdad bureau chief of the Egyptian magazine Roz al-Youssif. His previous work includes The Half-Meter Accident, The Man in the Spinach Field, and numerous short stories. Mona N. Mikhail is professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at New York University, and the author of Images of Arab Women. She won the PEN prize for her translations of the short stories of Yusuf Idris.