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Othman al-Sheikh is running away from the shadows of his past life in a small dusty village in the Libyan Desert. Tripoli, meanwhile, is a city in the process of transformation, moulded to the will of its Italian colonisers. Its decadent entertainments and extravagant riches conceal an underbelly of abject poverty and ruthless plotting. Othman falls for the city and its temptations. With a natural instinct for survival, he tries his luck in the capital, swept along by chance and opportunity.
Set in the early 1930s, Maps of the Soul immerses the reader in a different Libya, a country emerging from fierce resistance wars and presided over by the charismatic colonialist Italo Balbo with his dreams of a new Rome on the Fourth Shore, the crowning glory of the fascist dream. Against this backdrop, the story unfolds, one of painful survival in the face of defeated dreams. This volume contains the first three books of Fagih's monumental twelve part work, ending as Othman finally leaves Tripoli behind, a city at the mercy of political wrangling and war.

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