The Orchards of Basra
Mansoura Ez Eldin
The Orchards of Basra is set in two different time periods. In present-day Minya, Egypt, Hisham Khatab is a young manuscripts dealer who is passionate about old books. This leads him to interpret a dream in The Great Book of Interpretation of Dreams, ascribed to Ibn Sirin, and believe he was someone called Yazid bin Abihi, who lived in the 2nd hijri century (8th century AD) in Basra, Iraq. The dream introduces the reader to important figures from that era, including Wasil bin Ata and Al-Hasan al-Basri, and others like Mujeeba, the wife of Yazid and her lover ‘Adi bin Malek, the copier of manuscripts from Iraq, as well as Khatab, his mother Leila and friend Mirvat from contemporary Egypt. Despite the many voices telling their stories and the differences in time and place, the characters all have much in common: their belief in signs, and an area of guilt in their lives or a point at which their lives radically changed.