The Longing of the Dervish

The Longing of the Dervish

Publishing House: The American University in Cairo Press

Publication Year: 2016

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 304

“The Longing of the Dervish,” a novel by Hammour Ziada, unfolds in 19th-century Sudan amid the disintegration of the Mahdist state. Bakhit Mindeel, a former slave, is released from prison during the concluding Mahdist war.

Examining conflicts in a British colonial war, it delves into struggles between Egypt and Sudanese factions under the Mahdist regime. The narrative intricately weaves love, spirituality, betrayal, and political strife, profoundly exploring the clash between white Christian and Islamic Sufi cultures in Sudan.

The collapse of the Mahdist state frees Bakhit, haunted by Theodora’s loss. Sustained only by her memory and a vow for vengeance, his journey is one of sorrow, hope, and an unyielding confrontation with fate. His experience encapsulates the era’s social and political turmoil, marred by war and religious zeal.

Ziada’s lyrical narrative transcends historical context, touching on universal themes of tolerance, prejudice, and freedom. “The Longing of the Dervish” isn’t merely a love story against historical odds; it’s a nuanced exploration of the human spirit in adversity and change.

Critics laud Ziada for exquisite language and insightful portrayal of complex themes. The Financial Times praised the rich depiction of Bakheet and Theodora’s relationship, where a white woman finds comfort but struggles with societal norms. This novel is a poignant testament to enduring love and resilience amid historical upheaval.

Read More About Hammour Ziada

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