The Tiller of Waters

Author: Hoda Barakat,

Publishing House: The American University in Cairo Press

Publication Year: 2004

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 192

The Tiller of Waters: In this mesmerizing novel, a man lost in his hallucinations narrates his memories amidst the ruins of Beirut. The stark urban setting is brought to life by the unfolding familial histories of Niqula Mitri and Shamsa, his cherished Kurdish maid. Mitri reflects on his Egyptian mother and his father, who, after an extended sojourn in Egypt, returned to make a life in Beirut. Both father and son are textile merchants, perceiving the world through the intricate language of fabrics, from the luxurious touch of silk, velvet, and linen to the sterile feel of synthetic materials.

Shamsa, in contrast, tells the adventurous saga of her parents and grandparents, who journeyed from Iraqi Kurdistan to Beirut. Vivid pastoral images of Kurdish life stand in sharp relief against the stagnating opulence of city dwellers.

Barakat masterfully stitches into her intricate tale fragments of scientific discussions on herbal plants and textile arts, social mores of Arabs, Armenians, and Kurds, and mythological characters from diverse cultures in this novel “The Tiller of Waters” such as ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, and Arabia. She also incorporates the spiritual philosophies of the African Dogons and medieval Byzantines, as well as historical narratives concerning the Crusades in the Holy Land and the ancient Silk Road to China.

Read More About Hoda Barakat,

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