In Goat Mountain, Habib Selmi’s first novel, published in Arabic in 1988, a young man’s journey begins in a dilapidated old bus that takes four hours to reach Al-‘Ala, from where he takes a long ride on mule back, accompanied by a mysterious older man who is to play an important part in the young man’s new life. They finally arrive at Goat Mountain, a forlorn, Tunisian desert village. The school is a single room. The youth passes the first night in the house of his uncommunicative guide, whose name is Ismail . . . He grows more uneasy and depressed as Ismail becomes ever more powerful until, with a new truck and his own private army, Ismail dominates village life and casts a menacing shadow over the young man.