A 12-year-old boy returns from his school in Cairo to find his village torn by feud and fear. A corrupt official has ordered the peasants to irrigate their fields in five days, instead of the customary ten - a demand that threatens to disrupt the whole life of this small community. The local schoolmaster, Sheikh Hassouna, urges the villagers to rebel. But it takes many attempts - some disastrous, others comical and touching - before they join forces and stand against their oppressors. Sharqawi's novel, set in the 1930s, was first published in 1954, two years after the Egyptian revolution. An epic drama of great power, Egyptian Earth is a masterpiece of modern Arabic literature. It has been translated into many languages, including French and Russian, as well as being made into a popular film by the well-known Egyptian director Youssef Chahine.
Adel Rahman al-Sharqawi was born in the Egyptian province of Menoufia in 1920. His work as a poet, novelist and playwright is highly regarded for its realism and commitment to social issues of the day. He died in 1987.