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When an opulent palace is built on the Jeddah waterfront near his poverty-stricken neighbourhood, ambitious Tariq sees a way out of his life of petty crime. He stares longingly at the huge gates, dreaming of the luxuries beyond. But dream quickly turns into nightmare. The Palace is ruled by an enigmatic Master whose influence in the city is as wide as it is wicked. When Tariq succeeds in being appointed to serve the Master it becomes clear that he has been chosen for a single, terrible task. Thirty years later, Tariq feels trapped. In between punishing the Master's enemies through unspeakable acts, falling for Maram, the Master's beautiful mistress, and resisting his brother's pleas to return home, he realises that he has become no more than a slave - and that there is only one way out.
Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing
Number of Pages
Abdo Khal shines a light on life at the bottom of the heap, in Saudi's often forgotten villages. His voice blends image-rich poetic classicism with contemporary patois, which makes for an unmistakably Arab mix The Guardian, UK Khal writes vividly and poetically ... [a] powerful and deeply troubling book -- Sholto Byrnes National A novel of politics and faith which proposes something more open-ended and transcendent Banipal A grotesque satire on limitless wealth and the inequalities it spawns, ... about a boy from the Jeddah slums who rises as a henchman in a ruthless tycoon's palace, only to crave salvation for his fallen soul -- Maya Jaggi The Guardian, UK ...a brilliant exploration of the relationship between the individual and the state. Through the eyes of its two-dimensional protagonist, the book gives the reader a taste of the horrifying reality of the excessive world of the palace Taleb Alrefai (head of the 2010 IPAF judges panel) Khal's description is vivid and poetic, and the quality of the translation - as with all books brought out by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation - is top-notch. -- Omar Sharrif Gulf News