After coming to Vienna from Sudan to win a better life for himself, Hamza struggles to escape from the margins of society and the stigma of the immigrant. Following several years of hardship, his fortunes begin to change when he meets Sandra, a young Austrian woman, who shows him the Palm House. In this famous Viennese greenhouse, the frost of Hamza's heart begins to thaw, and he slowly opens himself to Sandra, revealing his bitter yet beautiful past in Sudan and beyond. This masterful vel draws on the 1001 Nights as well as Sudanese folk traditions, and demonstrates the remarkable power of storytelling to overcome even the most dire circumstances. Critically acclaimed across the Arab world, this vel can be read on its own, or as a sequel to Eltayeb's first vel, Cities without Palms (AUC Press, 2009).
Tarek Eltayeb was born in Cairo in 1959, the son of Sudanese parents. Since 1984 he has lived in Austria, where he is currently a professor at the International Management Center of the University of Applied Sciences at Krems, Austria. He is the author of two novels as well as short stories and poetry. Kareem James Abu-Zeid has published translations of Arabic poetry in various journals, and is the translator of Tarek Eltayeb's Cities without Palms.