The Night Will Have Its Say

Ibrahim al-Koni
Translated by Nancy Roberts


International Booker Prize finalist and “one of the Arab world’s most innovative novelists” (Roger Allen) delivers a brilliant retelling of the Muslim wars of conquest in North Africa

The year is 693 and a tense exchange, mediated by an interpreter, takes place between Berber warrior queen al-Kahina and an emissary from the Umayyad General Hassan ibn Nu’man. Her predecessor had been captured and killed by the Umayyad forces some years earlier, but she will go on to defeat them.

The Night Will Have Its Say is a retelling of the Muslim wars of conquest in North Africa during the seventh century CE, narrated from the perspective of the conquered peoples. Written in Ibrahim al-Koni’s unique and enchanting voice, his lyrical and deeply poetic prose speaks to themes that are intensely timely. Through the wars and conflicts of this distant, turbulent era, he addresses the futility of war, the privilege of an elite few at the expense of the many, the destruction of natural habitats and indigenous cultures, and questions about literal and fundamentalist interpretations of religious texts.

Al-Koni’s masterly account of conquest and resistance is both timeless and timely, infused with a sense of disaster and exile—from language, the desert, and homeland.


“A rich text. . . with gripping scenes and confrontations, and some fascinating underlying conflicts, in particular concerning attitudes towards life, freedom, and conquest . . . . an unusual kind of historical fiction, but certainly worthwhile.” —The Complete Review

"I loved 'The Night Will Have Its Say.' Ibrahim al-Koni weaves a magical tale of a world where female power and the polyphony of the feminine are a given, where the earth and the heavens are in constant dialogue, and where ancestors and scriptures are alive and present."—Nadia Wassef, author of 'Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller'


"A magnificent novelist"—Marilyn Booth, translator of the International Booker Prize winner, Celestial Bodies

"One of the Arab world's most innovative novelists."—Roger Allen, University of Pennsylvania

"The desert setting is al-Koni's strength: its expanse, desolation, and mystery are powerfully evoked."—Banipal

"Al-Koni's story, simply and elegantly told, has all the inevitability of a Greek tragedy--or, better, all the tribulations of Job."—Kirkus Reviews

"Al-Koni's novels are aesthetic renderings of the passions of the desert and of the rich legends and cosmology of his people. An encyclopedic writer who has digested mythologies of the ancient world and literature of the modern world, al-Koni has both a poetic bent and a mystical inclination."—Al Ahram Weekly

"A true journey into the human psyche."—Cairo Magazine

"Imagine Cormac McCarthy's savage lyricism in a Paul Bowles desert landscape and you begin to enter the bleakly beautiful world of this mesmerizing, fable-like novel."—The Independent



Ibrahim al-Koni

Ibrahim al-Koni was born in Libya in 1948. A Tuareg who writes in Arabic, he spent his childhood in the desert and learned to read and write Arabic when he was twelve. His novels Anubis (2005), Gold Dust (2008), and The Seven Veils of Seth (2009) were published by AUC Press, and another novel, The Bleeding of the Stone, has also appeared in English.
In 2008 he received the Sheikh Zayed Prize for Literature for his novel Nida’ ma kan ba‘idan (Calling the distant). In 2010, he received in Cairo the Arab Novel Award and dedicated the value of the prize to the children of the Tuareg tribes from which he originally hails.
William M. Hutchins, professor in the Philosophy and Religion Department at Appalachian State University, is the translator of Ibrahim al-Koni’s Anubis (AUC Press, 2005).

Nancy Roberts is an award-winning translator of a number of Arabic novels including Salwa Bakr’s The Man from Bashmour (AUC Press, 2007), for which she received a commendation in the SaifGhobash–Banipal Prize for Translation, and Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Time of White Horses (Hoopoe, 2016).

Find out more
  • August 30th 2022
  • $18.95 / £11.99 / LE250
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781649031860

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