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Hailed as a masterpiece when it was first published in France in 1977, The
Desert tells the story of al-Mammi, a young exiled prince of a now-destroyed
Jewish kingdom in southern Morocco in the late fourteenth century. Fighting
battles in the service of kings and narrowly escaping imprisonment, the prince
travels the Islamic world absorbing lessons, often painfully, on how to govern
himself, as well as a country. At that same time, al-Mammi engages upon a
spiritual journey to obtain inner wisdom rather than material riches. Memmi
chronicles the prince’s fortunes as they rise and fall, drawing upon the traditions
of Maghrebian storytelling and Arabian tales to offer a highly imaginative and
allegorical novel that provocatively blends history with fiction.

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