Two Questers in Twentieth-century North Africa: Paul Bowles and Ibrahim Alkoni breaks new ground in its comparative exploration of the work of American expatriate author Paul Bowles and exiled Libyan author Ibrahim Alkoni: it is, to my knowledge, the first full-length comparative treatment of these two authors. The book makes a powerful rebuttal of Western notions of the ‘empty’ desert, populating it with heterogeneous communities, storytelling traditions, histories, ontologies and epistemologies. The writer uses a postcolonial theoretical methodology, most successfully at the interface of postcolonial and magical realist paradigms. She further specifies the mythic elements of Alkoni’s work with reference to ethnography, particularly on Berber culture, and to material also published in Arabic, which she translates herself. She makes some very useful critical points in the book, for example challenging simplistic Western/North African and coloniser/colonised binaries by arguing that Bowles – an American – orients himself against French colonialism and that Alkoni sees non-Berber influences in the region, over a long historical span, as colonising. The final section specifies numerous resonances between these cosmopolitan, polyglot authors, who both focus on modernity’s contamination of authentic spaces; emphasise quests towards solitude and often through violence; pit nature against culture; collect, preserve and transmit oral narratives and myths; generate hybrid forms with strong oral and mythical elements; resist linearity and teleology in their narrative forms; and present the desert as a site of wisdom and sublime aesthetics. The fact that the writer is multilingual facilitates her distinctive comparison of these writers. The manuscript constitutes a distinctive contribution to knowledge commensurate with the award of doctorate in comparative literature.