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In a desperate attempt to save his mother and two sisters from famine and disease, a young man leaves his native village in Sudan and sets out alone to seek work in the city. This is the beginning of Hamza's long journey. Hunger and destitution lead him ever farther from his home: first from Sudan to Egypt, where the lack of work forces him to join a band of smugglers, and finally from Egypt to Europe-Italy, France, Holland-where he experiences first-hand the harsh world of migrant laborers and the bitter realities of life as an illegal immigrant. Tarek Eltayeb's first novel offers an uncompromising depiction of poverty in both the developed and the developing world. With its simple yet elegant style, Cities without Palms tells of a tragic human life punctuated by moments of true joy.
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. He is the author of three novels as well as short stories and poetry.
Kareem James Abu-Zeid is the translator of Tarek Eltayeb's The Palm House (AUC Press, 2011). He was runner-up in the 2010 Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Cities without Palms.