Over the Bridge

Publishing House: The American University in Cairo Press

Publication Year: 2006

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 152

“Over the Bridge,” a novel by Mohamed El-Bisatie, presents a striking allegory set against the backdrop of bureaucratic corruption and social injustice in Egypt. The story unfolds around a government bureaucrat who engages in an audacious act of embezzlement by authorizing a police department for a non-existent city in Upper Egypt. His primary motive is to divert the city’s monthly payroll for his personal gain. However, his scheme evolves beyond mere financial fraud as he begins to intricately envision the city he has fabricated.

In his imagination, the bureaucrat constructs every detail of this imaginary city: from a wealthy district adorned with villas and swimming pools to a poverty-ridden old quarter, connected by a bridge over the Nile. He even conjures up the character of the city’s chief of police, envisaging him as a symbol of cruelty and corruption. As time passes, the line between reality and his fantasy world starts to blur, with his creation taking on a life of its own.

Furthermore, El-Bisatie uses this narrative to offer a nuanced critique of governmental inefficiency, the disparities in economic and social conditions, and the ethical lapses of individuals. The novel explores the human tendency to create and control, illustrating how these drives often lead to unintended and adverse outcomes. The story presents a scenario where attempts to do good are ironically twisted, causing more harm than benefit.

The bureaucrat’s elaborate illusion, akin to Frankenstein’s monster, gradually gains its own reality and momentum. By the end of the tale, this illusion reveals its true nature, having sown the seeds of its creator’s downfall. “Over the Bridge” is a thought-provoking exploration of power, its misuse, and the fragile boundary between fiction and reality. It also delves into the law of unintended consequences, where actions taken can lead to unforeseen and often destructive results.

El-Bisatie’s storytelling in “Over the Bridge” is both intriguing and surprising, making it a compelling read that masterfully weaves allegorical elements to reflect on the complexities of power, imagination, and the human condition. The novel stands as a testament to El-Bisatie’s literary prowess in capturing the nuances of societal issues through a captivating narrative.

Read More About Mohamed El-Bisatie

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