azazeel

The latest addition to my website is Youssef Ziedan‘s عزازيل (Azazeel). This is a brilliant book, set in the fifth century A.D., telling the story of Hypa, an Egyptian Christian monk, who travel around the Middle East (modern Egypt, Syria, Israel and Turkey). Hypa is caught up in the religious disputes between the early Christians and the pagans (his father, a pagan, is murdered by Christians) but also in the dispute between Bishop Cyril and Bishop Nestorius, with Hypa supporting Nestorius. Unlike the dogmatic people he meets, both pagan and Christian, Hypa tends to take a more tolerant attitude, favouring sexual relationships for monks and learning from the pagans and not just from Christian sources. He is also subject to many doubts, as good heroes often are, urged on by Azazeel, i.e. the Devil. Whatever your views of religion and religious dogma, this is a first-class and most entertaining novel.