Mohamed El-Bisatie Translated by Hala Halim
From the author of Houses behind Trees
Clamor of the Lake begins with the appearance of an old fisherman of unknown origin sailing a black boat. Taciturn and enigmatic, he takes on a woman and her twin boys. While he gives away nothing about his past, his undemanding companionship prompts the woman to narrate her turbulent life. Meanwhile, in a nearby village by the lake, Gomaa and his wife have found respite from the dreariness of their existence in the fantastic objects the sea churns up during gales—a sword, alluring panties, a talisman. But when the waves cast up a chest that speaks in a language no one can comprehend, Gomaa is haunted by its voice. As the tumult of the lake drives a wedge between the couple, it turns two neighbors into close allies: Karawia, a café proprietor, and Afifi, a grocer. Eventually, they too will be haunted by the siren song of the lake. In Mohamed El-Bisatie’s lyrical novel, the stories of these various figures converge on the mercurial presence of the lake, which in the end proves the narrative’s true hero. An accomplished experiment in the poetics of space, Clamor of the Lake won the 1995 Cairo International Book Fair Award for Best Novel of the Year.