‘The desert is a space in which people discover themselves,’ says the author Bahaa Taher, and the desert is where his novel Sunset Oasis is set, in the last years of the 19th century.
It depicts the life of a middle-aged government official, Mahmoud Abd el Zahir, who is sent by his British superiors to govern the oasis of Siwa as a punishment for his involvement in the failed Urabi revolt in 1882.
Frustrated by the failure of the revolution and experiencing a gradual draining of his intimate feelings for his wife, Mahmoud decides to accept the mission. Except that his wife decides to accompany him, on a mission of her own, to follow the footsteps of Alexander the Great. His desperate attempts to discourage her fail, and he ends up followed by the shadow of his troubled emotions on a journey he originally wanted to use ‘to discover himself’.