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Help, I've been trying to identify this book for ages and Google is not telling. My memory is very hazy but I remember reading this story in the early 00s.

From what I remember, it's about a man who travels to new city in a fictionalised country that seemed to resemble somewhere in the Middle East or Asia. I don't recall much happening in the book, but just some weird details like some of the inhabitants of the city hanging the bones of their ancestors in their doorways for protection. At one point one of the male characters in the city makes a sexual advance on the male protagonist, who then rejects him, and this storyline didn't lead anywhere, which was super weird. Then the protagonist discovers these weird plastic things that later turn out to be some kind of alien species that I think only comes to life if hydrated.

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Is this The Eclipse of the Century by Jan Mark (1999)?

Keith has a near death experience and finds himself at the end of a long tunnel. He thinks at first he must be in heaven, but he is greeted by strangers who tell him he is in Qantoum and they will meet him there again "under a black sun at the end of a thousand years". While recuperating, he discovers that Qantoum is a town that nobody has ever heard of, right in the emptiest heart of Asia. As anybody might who finds he has dreamed of a real place, he travels there. Join Keith as he journeys along the railway track to that intriguing town, Qantoum. The rest, as they say, is the future...

I found this by searching for different spellings of "Qantoom". A Reddit post looking for this story gives this description:

There's these dried out leather kidney things that rehydrate and become malicious blobs...

This also looks to be the same as Book identification: 90s/2000s novel, American travels to fictional town called Khartoum.

  • This link seems to confirm it. – Schmalls Nov 21 at 17:01
  • Wow, this is it! Thank you that's awesome – Nnnn Nov 22 at 10:19

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