A cult classic that “combines the genres of travelogue, fable, dream narrative, novel and confessional into one beguiling whole” (Publishers Weekly).
The hero and guiding force of this epic fantasy is an insomniac young man who, unable to sleep, guides the reader through the narrow streets of Cairo—a mysterious city full of deceit and trickery.
He narrates a complex tangle of dreams and imaginings that describe an atmosphere constantly shifting between sumptuously learned experiences, erotic adventure, and dry humor. The result is a thought-provoking puzzle box of sex, philosophy, and theology, reminiscent of Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco.
“Deft and lovely . . . The smooth steely grip of Irwin’s story-telling genius is a joy to read.” —The Washington Post
“The Arabian Nightmare is a conceit worthy of Borges.” —The New York Times
“[Irwin’s] fascination for inner perception, helped along with a delight in Scheherazadian frames and exotic lore, makes for quite a rich experience: a strangely playful construct that, like an intricate Chinese box, delights with each unexpected combination and hidden drawer.” —Kirkus Reviews