Picture in the Sand
Peter Blauner’s epic Picture in the Sand is a sweeping intergenerational saga told through a grandfather’s passionate letters to his grandson, passing on the story of his political rebellion in 1950s Egypt in order to save his grandson’s life in a post-9/11 world.
When Alex Hassan gets accepted to an Ivy League university, his middle-class Egyptian-American family is filled with pride and excitement. But that joy turns to shock when they discover that he’s run off to the Middle East to join a holy war instead. When he refuses to communicate with everyone else, his loving grandfather Ali emails him one last plea. If Alex will stay in touch, his grandfather will share with Alex—and only Alex—a manuscript containing the secret story of his own life that he’s kept hidden from his family, until now.
It’s the tale of his romantic and heartbreaking past rooted in Hollywood and the post-revolutionary Egypt of the 1950s, when young Ali was a movie fanatic who attained a dream job working for the legendary director Cecil B. DeMille on the set of his epic film, The Ten Commandments. But Ali’s vision of a golden future as an American movie mogul gets upended when he is unwittingly caught up in a web of politics, espionage, and real-life events that change the course of history.
It’s a narrative he’s told no one for more than a half-century. But now he’s forced to unearth the past to save a young man who’s about to make the same tragic mistakes he made so long ago.
“This is historical fiction at its absolute best—heartfelt, anchored in real events and extremely well told.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review (full review)
—The Economist (full review)
“Great storytelling, a coming-of-age tale with a love story at its heart…. A gripping, hard-to-put-down thriller.”
—Kirkus Reviews (full review)
—Dayton.com (full review)
“Transports readers completely into a different place and time. It is not only fascinating but also heartbreaking and heartwarming.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Picture in the Sand is a fast and absorbing read that will make you yearn for a Cairo you never knew you missed.”
—Forbes (full review)
“Peter Blauner made six trips to Egypt over twenty years. His preoccupations, he’s said, are ‘faith, hope, terror… and movies.’ This novel expresses them all, and at the highest level.”
—Head Butler (full review)
—Marisa Silver, Author of Mary Coin and The Mysteries