AUSTRALIAN. Cairo Paris Melbourne is three novels in one. Translated from the Arabic, it is set against the many Middle Eastern wars. It assumes poignancy with today's Arab Spring. Zoheir struggles to escape Cairo's poverty while ghosts torment his childhood. Family, friends and villains are evoked brilliantly. He learns of love and brutality quickly. Entering adolescence he yearns for another place to find his purpose. He secures a visa to Paris in a comic tour de force, cleverly exposing corruption in Cairo. In France he is an immigrant worker, travelling with fellow Egyptians and reading Hamlet. He falls for the fascinating and destructive Caroline, holds a forged passport and is soon on the run from drug dealers in the Algerian quarter of Paris. Fate leads him towards treachery, arrest and, eventually, Melbourne.