Drumbeat Cover

Publishing House: The American University in Cairo Press

Publication Year: 2010

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 128

“Drumbeat,” a novel by Mohamed El-Bisatie, is set in a fictional Gulf country, characterized by its striking glass skyscrapers and artificially maintained greenery. The narrative takes a dramatic turn when the national football team qualifies for the World Cup. Leading to an extraordinary decree from the Emir. He commands all native Emiratis to travel to France to support their team.  Leaving the nation in the hands of the immigrant labor force. This sudden shift in the social order brings about an exploration of newfound freedom among the workers. A theme central to the novel.

As the story unfolds, it feels like navigating a complex world created by a fusion of Dante’s inferno and Scheherazade’s tales. The reader is on a journey through various strata of society, starting from the vibrant, multilingual crowds celebrating the Emirati team’s success. The narrative then delves into the underlying social hierarchies. From opulent gardens and swimming pools to the more intimate and concealed aspects of the bedrooms. El-Bisatie skillfully juxtaposes the present’s restrictive societal norms against a backdrop of a seemingly more innocent past.

The novel structured around three interwoven narratives. Together, they provide a profound and critical examination of the psychology of control and societal dynamics. “Drumbeat” recognized for its literary merit with the Sawiris Foundation Award for Egyptian Literature, affirming its significance in modern Arabic literature.

Furthermore, Mohamed El-Bisatie (1937-2012), the author of “Drumbeat,” was a prolific writer with several novels and short story collections to his name, including “A Last Glass of Tea,” “Houses Behind the Trees,” “Clamor of the Lake,” and “Hunger.” His literary contributions earned him the prestigious Oweiss Prize in 2001. The English translation of “Drumbeat” was undertaken by Peter Daniel. He is a seasoned translator and Arabic language instructor. Daniel previously translated works such as “As Doha Said” by Bahaa Taher. “Drumbeat” stands as a testament to El-Bisatie’s unique narrative style, blending complex social commentary with engaging storytelling.

Read More About Mohamed El-Bisatie

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