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The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow

The concluding volume of Ibrahim al-Koni’s Oasis trilogy, begun in New Waw, Saharan Oasis and The Puppet, The Scarecrow completes a tale of greed and corruption that reveals the hollowness of tyrants.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin
August 2015
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128 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 |

The Scarecrow is the final volume of Ibrahim al-Koni’s Oasis trilogy, which chronicles the founding, flourishing, and decline of a Saharan oasis. Fittingly, this continuation of a tale of greed and corruption opens with a meeting of the conspirators who assassinated the community’s leader at the end of the previous novel, The Puppet. They punished him for opposing the use of gold in business transactions—a symptom of a critical break with their nomadic past—and now they must search for a leader who shares their fetishistic love of gold. A desert retreat inspires the group to select a leader at random, but their “choice,” it appears, is not entirely human. This interloper from the spirit world proves a self-righteous despot, whose intolerance of humanity presages disaster for an oasis besieged by an international alliance. Though al-Koni has repeatedly stressed that he is not a political author, readers may see parallels not only to a former Libyan ruler but to other tyrants—past and present—who appear as hollow as a scarecrow.

  • Introduction: Al-Koni’s Demons
  • The Omen
  • The Prophecy
  • The Scarecrow
  • The Gifts
  • The Edicts
  • Blindness
  • Wantahet
  • The Epidemic
  • The Raids
  • The Beauty
  • The Idol
  • The Sacrificial Offering
  • About the Author

Born in 1948 to a nomadic Saharan family, Ibrahim al-Koni is an award-winning Arabic-language novelist and has already published more than seventy volumes. A Tuareg whose mother tongue is Tamasheq, he was educated in Moscow and, after many years in Switzerland, now lives in Spain. He is one of the prime authorities on Tuareg culture and folklore.
William M. Hutchins, Professor in the Philosophy and Religion Department at Appalachian State University, has translated numerous works of Arabic literature into English, including four novels by the Nobel Prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz. He has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for literary translation, both for works by Ibrahim al-Koni. He was co-winner of the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for A Land Without Jasmine by Wajdi al-Ahdal.