The Magnificent Conman of Cairo

The Magnificent Conman of Cairo
Author: Adel Kamel
Publsiher: American University in Cairo Press
Total Pages: 153
Release: 2020-04-07
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9781617979798

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Available in English for the first time, this rediscovered classic which Naguib Mahfouz called “exceptional," tells a story of fathers and sons, scoundrels and the innocent, set in 1930s Cairo Khaled, the spoiled idle son of a pasha, meets Mallim, carpenter’s apprentice and son of a scoundrel, when he comes to fix a broken window. In the course of his work, Mallim stumbles across a stash of money and dutifully hands it in. Khaled cooks up an overly elaborate plot to see that his dastardly father pays Mallim his due, but the plot backfires and Mallim is thrown in jail. Khaled’s guilt over Mallim’s misfortune, made worse by his ridiculous attempts to defend him, result in a decisive moment: he breaks ties with his cruel and tyrannical father, seeking to leave behind the upper-class lifestyle he finds so suffocating. They meet again years later, when Mallim has been released from prison and given up on earning an honest living. Khaled gets caught up in Mallim’s latest scam and is drawn into joining his cadre of eccentrics and failed artists living in a derelict Mamluk citadel. With a sharp satirical voice Adel Kamal’s masterful novel is filled with compelling drama, vivid characters, and subtle humor.

The Story of the Banned Book

The Story of the Banned Book
Author: Mohamed Shoair
Publsiher: American University in Cairo Press
Total Pages: 222
Release: 2022-05-03
Genre: History
ISBN: 9781649032249

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An award-winning account of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s most controversial novel and the fierce debates that it provoked Naguib Mahfouz’s novel Children of the Alley has been in the spotlight since it was first published in Egypt in 1959. It has been at times banned and at others allowed, sold sometimes under the counter and sometimes openly on the street, often pirated and only recently legally reprinted. It has inspired anxiety among the secular authorities, rage within the religious right, and a drawing of battle lines among Arab intellectuals and writers. It dogged Mahfouz like a curse throughout the remainder of his career, led to his attempted assassination, and sparked a public debate that continues to this day, even after the author’s death in 2006. It is Egypt’s iconic novel, in whose mirror millions have seen themselves, their society, and even the universe, some finding truth, others blasphemy. In this award-winning account, Mohamed Shoair traces the story of Mahfouz’s novel as a cultural and political object, from its first publication to the present via Mahfouz’s award of the Nobel prize for literature in 1988 and the attempt on his life in 1994. He presents the arguments that swirled about the novel and the wide cast of Egyptian figures, from state actors to secular intellectuals and Islamists, who took part in them. He also contextualizes the interactions among the principal characters, interactions that have done much to shape the country’s present. Extensively researched and written in a lucid, accessible style, The Story of the Banned Book is both a gripping work of investigative journalism and a window onto some of the fiercest debates around culture and religion to have taken place in Egyptian society over the past half-century.

Karnak Cafe

Karnak Cafe
Author: Naguib Mahfouz
Publsiher: Anchor
Total Pages: 114
Release: 2011-05-04
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9780307793850

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In this gripping and suspenseful novella from the Egyptian Nobel Prize-winner, three young friends survive interrogation by the secret police, only to find their lives poisoned by suspicion, fear, and betrayal. At a Cairo café in the 1960s, a legendary former belly dancer lovingly presides over a boisterous family of regulars, including a group of idealistic university students. One day, amid reports of a wave of arrests, three of the students disappear: the excitable Hilmi, his friend Ismail, and Ismail's beautiful girlfriend Zaynab. When they return months later, they are apparently unharmed and yet subtly and profoundly changed. It is only years later, after their lives have been further shattered, that the narrator pieces together the young people's horrific stories and learns how the government used them against one another. In a riveting final chapter, their torturer himself enters the Café and sits among his former victims, claiming a right to join their society of the disillusioned. Now translated into English for the first time, Naguib Mahfouz's tale of the insidious effects of government-sanctioned torture and the suspension of rights and freedoms in a time of crisis is shockingly contemporary.

The Book Smuggler

The Book Smuggler
Author: Omaima Al-Khamis
Publsiher: American University in Cairo Press
Total Pages: 537
Release: 2021-04-06
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9781649030597

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A magical story of a Crusade-era bookseller who embarks on a journey through the Islamic world’s great medieval cities, winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature In the epic fashion of the great Arab explorers and travel writers of the Middle Ages, scribe and bookworm Mazid al-Hanafi narrates this journey from his remote village in the Arabian Desert. Dreaming of grand libraries, his passion for the written word draws him into a secret society of book smugglers and into the famed cultural capitals of the period—Baghdad, Jerusalem, Cairo, Granada, and Cordoba. He discovers a dangerous new world of ideas and experiences the cultural diversity of the Islamic Golden Age, its sects, philosophical schools, wars, and ways of life. Omaima Al-Khamis’s magical storytelling and her vivid descriptions of time and place trace a route through ancient cities and cultures and immerse us in a distant era, uncovering the intellectual debates and struggles which continue to rage today.

A Recipe for Daphne

A Recipe for Daphne
Author: Nektaria Anastasiadou
Publsiher: American University in Cairo Press
Total Pages: 326
Release: 2021-02-02
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9781649030016

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ELIF SHAFAK'S NEW YORK TIMES ISTANBUL READING LIST RUNCIMAN AWARD SHORTLIST ERIC HOFFER AWARD FINALIST & HONORABLE MENTION DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD LONGLIST WNBA GREAT GROUP READ SELECTION At the neighborhood café where pastry chef Kosmas, charming widower Fanis, and other Rum—Greek Orthodox Christian—friends meet regularly for afternoon tea, American-born Daphne arrives with her elderly aunt. Daphne unsettles hearts, provokes jealousies, and stirs up memories of the 1955 Istanbul pogrom, forcing Kosmas and Fanis to confront their painful history in order to risk new beginnings. A shrewd and humorous tale, A Recipe for Daphne invites the reader into the kitchens, loves, and secret lives of Istanbul's most ancient community.

The Lady of Zamalek

The Lady of Zamalek
Author: Ashraf El-Ashmawi
Publsiher: American University in Cairo Press
Total Pages: 398
Release: 2021-05-11
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9781649030771

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Spanning twentieth-century Egyptian history and opening with the true story of a prominent Cairo businessman’s murder, this rags-to-riches story wondrously combines real-life events with fiction, told by a “magical storyteller” It was in the spring of 1927 that Cairo's attention was captured by the shocking murder of prominent businessman Solomon Cicurel in his Nile-side villa in the upscale Zamalek district. It was a burglary that went wrong, and four culprits were soon arrested. Their trial was concluded swiftly, their punishments were decisive, and society breathed a sigh of relief. In Ashraf El-Ashmawi's telling, there was a fifth accomplice, Abbas, who fled to his home in the countryside to lay low until the murder trial blew over. However, he did not escape empty-handed and kept stolen documents from Cicurel's villa, ones that he imagined would lead him to a hidden safe. Abbas hatched a plan to return to the capital, find the safe, and make his fortune. The first step was to place his sister Zeinab with Cicurel's widow, Paula. Abbas’s rags-to-riches story unfolds as a tale of modern Egypt, taking in the Second World War, the 1952 revolution and rise of Nasser, the 1967 war, and the Sadat and Mubarak eras. Spanning the 1920s to the 1990s, El-Ashmawi deftly weaves together history with fiction in this intriguing English-language debut.

Sayyid Qutb

Sayyid Qutb
Author: Giedre Šabaseviciute
Publsiher: Syracuse University Press
Total Pages: 290
Release: 2021-12-27
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
ISBN: 9780815655299

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No Arab historical figure is more demonized than the Egyptian literati-turned-Islamist Sayyid Qutb. A poet and literary critic in his youth, Qutb is known to have abandoned literature in the 1950s in favor of Islamism, becoming its most prominent ideologist to this day. In a sharp departure from this common narrative, Šabaseviciute offers a fresh perspective on Qutb’s life that examines his Islamist commitment as a continuation of his literary project. Contrary to the notion of Islam’s incompatibility with literature, the book argues that Islamism provided as Qutb with a novel way to pursue his metaphysical quest at a time when the rising anti-colonial movement brought the Romantic models of literature to their demise. Drawing upon unexplored material on Qutb’s life—book reviews, criticism, intellectual collaborations, memoirs, and personal interviews with his former acquaintances—Šabaseviciute traces the development of Qutb’s thought in line with his shifting networks of friendship and patronage. In a distinct sociological take on Arab intellectual and literary history, this book unveils the unexplored dimensions of Qutb’s involvement in Cairo’s burgeoning cultural scene.

I Do Not Sleep

I Do Not Sleep
Author: Ihsan Abdel Kouddous
Publsiher: American University in Cairo Press
Total Pages: 325
Release: 2021-10-05
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9781649030993

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A story of betrayal, desire, and family drama, written by a giant of Egyptian popular fiction who shocked readers in the 1950s when this Lolita-esque novel first appeared and whose work has never before been available in English Sixteen-year-old Nadia had been raised by her father, after her parents divorced when she was only a baby. Indulged and petulant, she remained the only female in her father’s life. But when she returns from boarding school to find that he has remarried without her knowledge, she conspires to restore her rightful place, creating misery, confusion, and a flood of unexpected consequences in her wake. Written as a letter, a confession, by now twenty-one-year old Nadia, Ihsan Abdel Kouddous’s classic novel of revenge and betrayal challenges patriarchal norms with its strong female characters and brazen sexuality, and continues to speak to the complex human condition. It dives into middle-class life, and lays bare the repressed desires, seething jealousies, and complicated dramas of family. Abdel Kouddous’s masterpiece I Do Not Sleep was adapted into a classic of Egyptian cinema in 1957, and its publication for the first time in English is an international publishing event.