This is billed as an Arab novel in the tradition of Naguib Mahfouz. Since I've read some of Mahfouz and enjoyed his work, I thought I might give this book a try. The book starts promisingly enough, but wanders off into irrelevance and incoherence by the end.
Hameed, the main character, works for a British petroleum company as a driver. The time (you guess from later in the book) is the early 1950s. When he propositions the wife of one of the people he drives around, he's fired, and this incident (which leads to his being nicknamed Hameed "Nylon", because he offered her a pair of them as a gift) is the starting point for the novel.
Hameed, you see, is blameless. After all, he was driving this woman around half-naked, and she regularly visited a lover who wasn't her husband. As a result, it was only natural that a man would proposition her, and completely unfair for him to be fired as a result. His firing results in demonstrations and even rioting, though of course everyone ridicules him about the nylons.
So the story starts there, and wanders all over the landscape. Magical things happen at various parts of the book: there are mythical people inside a box in one person's attic, ghosts inhabit various rooms in buildings, and Death himself makes an appearance several times. One of the main characters journeys to Russia to find his long lost brothers, missing since the First World War, and returns with them, in a blimp which he pilots himself, and which is just not mentioned after he lands it at home. As the book progresses, things get more and more unbelievable, more and more incoherent, more and more just silly.
I did enjoy parts of this book, but I must say that overall I didn't enjoy it that much. I would recommend it only to those who are interested in Arab culture and society.