Asyah and Saif

Frank Kermode

  • In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Soueif
    Bloomsbury, 791 pp, £15.99, June 1992, ISBN 0 7475 1163 2

This remarkable novel labours under what some might think serious disadvantages. First of all, at around four hundred thousand words it could be thought on the long side for a book principally concerned with the life of a PhD candidate from childhood to the age of thirty. This judgment could be disputed on the ground of generic precedent, the Bildungsroman habitually tending to length: but in these days blockbuster sizes tend to be associated either with the 19th century or with airport bookstalls, always excepting an occasional highbrow freak. However, respice finem; a fair reader will withhold condemnation on that score.

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