This novel tells the story of the life of an Egyptian woman - the eponymous Zaat - during the regimes of three Egyptian presidents: Abdel Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak. Imbued with an Egyptian sense of humour and deeply rooted in the culture and politics of the modern period, the novel takes a humourous but often black look at the changes that occurred in Egypt over the last few decades of the 20th century. Zaat's life experiences and relationships are set against economic and social upheavals. Zaat's story is interspersed and illustrated with extracts from newspapers of the day - headlines, articles, captions, death notices, advertisements - reflecting events and incidents contemporary with her life. They tell of corruption, financial scandals, torture, foreign debt, and social problems. The heroine epitomizes the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of simple folk tossed about on the stormy sea of modernization, consumerism, and the ever-present mirage of new wealth.