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The End of Sleep: A Novel Hardcover – June 17, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st American Ed edition (June 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393066606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393066609
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,556,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

In this madcap picaresque, we follow Fin, an Irish journalist, as he spends a day in the streets of Cairo pursuing a story of buried treasure that he believes will restore his floundering career at an English-language newspaper there. Fin seeks a �pacy linear narrative with obvious and satisfying climaxes,� but Somerville leads us, instead, down numerous back alleys and side streets, with frequent breaks for mint tea. The best moments are those of unbridled irreverence, such as when Fin, who is conversant only in �gastronomical Arabic,� becomes �inappropriately passionate� on the subject of the perfect kebab (the secret ingredient is thyme), or when we are told that the desert air is �so pure you can smell the farts of the camels.� Fin�s surreal experiences amid Cairo�s chaos are a vivid reminder of the challenges inherent in encountering the foreign, and the rewards of �not only learning to accept, but inhabit� difference.
Copyright ©2008Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

About the Author

Rowan Somerville has worked in television, film, and radio, and has also pursued his fortunes in Egypt. He lives in rural Ireland. This is his first novel.

More About the Author

First, thank you for bothering to read this.
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Umm Lila VINE VOICE on August 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fin is an Irish journalist living in Cairo who has lost his moorings in life, along with his job. Within a day's time, he is beaten up a few times and resumes his friendship with Farouk, a resident in a historic tourist-trap village near the pyramids. Farouk, it seems, may have the secrets that Fin wants to hear in order to find new meaning in life. Fin will do anything, including being thrown in the polluted Nile, to hear the story of Skinhead Saïd.

Rowan Somerville has his finger on the pulse of Cairo, and its perpetual energy. His descriptions of the city are spot on. Even if his transliteration and usage of Arabic words is not perfect, it brings color to his portrayal of a expat's day in the city. This book is some crazy "halwasa," to add another colloquialism to the description.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Cairo's outer limit, Mara village around the Pyramids, and its teeming inner density both find Fin, an ex-pat Irish journalist, getting not much shut-eye during his adventures. Told in a rather appealingly old-fashioned register, yet one that pulses with contemporary menace and even hints of American geopolitical relevance, this novel by a London-born, Edinburgh-educated, Irish resident shows lots of promise. The scenes in which Fin must try to rescue his friend Farouk from the clutches of Omar, the evil dwarf kebab king, blend terror and humor with vim and vigor.

The omniscient voice controls Fin's take on the manic events that envelop him after he seeks a resolution to the shaggy-dog tale Farouk begins about a neighboring rogue, Skinhead Said. Fin's so eager to find out more he nearly dies in the attempt. His inability to go with the flow of the Middle East, his Western impatience, serves to entangle him within events even at the novel's closing we don't fully comprehend. Early on, Fin wants a different narrative for himself: "His life should be a pacy linear narrative, with obvious and satisfying climaxes." (28) Yet, "Farouk was not one to be led along linear narrative lines, or led at all. He would reveal details randomly, the way fragments of antiquity might appear over time, scattered over a vast area, tantalising generations of archaeologists. Fin was intrigued by the story, attracted to it in a way he did not understand, any more than a jackdaw understands the call of shining metal or a moth the fire." (30)

Later on, after an assault by Omar's thug, Fin realizes that "his life was still without direction, without even the story he had decided would save him.
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By Katie Moriarty on June 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thought it was leading up to a big ending. Nope. And I think that was the point, but that doesn't make it a good book. Disappointed.
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