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Articles tagged "Egyptian Literature"

The Queue

Document No. 3 Examinations Conducted, Visible Symptoms, and Preliminary Diagnosis The patient is conscious, alert, and aware of his surroundings; blood pressure and pulse are normal; visible symptoms include: signs of choking and irritation to the nerves, blood surrounding entry and exit wounds caused by a [word crossed out], sign of recent abrasions and bruising on the back, pelvis, and forearm regions, [word crossed out; “injury” written above it] penetrating the pelvic...

The City and the Writer: Special Series from Egypt, October 2015

Photography by Mohamed Farag About an hour before I get to downtown Cairo, which is to say that I get to one of its outskirts, I am thirsty. And I never quench that thirst while I am there. I’ve always run from Cairo, only stayed there because that’s where the plane landed. The juxtaposition found in the streets is compelling: the cats eating the oranges from the garbage in front of some ornate façade, the man with the wagonload of chicks beside the semi and the big,...

The City and the Writer: In Alexandria with Khaled Raouf

October 2015 Special Series: Egypt     If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.                —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Alexandria as you feel/see it? Aida is an old woman who sells flowers on the streets of...

Magdy El Shafee Arrested and Held at Tora Prison

Magdy El Shafee, author of Egypt’s first graphic novel, Metro, was arrested by security forces on Friday in downtown Cairo. According to fellow author Muhammad Aladdin, El Shafee was detained near Abdel Moneim Riyad Square, where clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and protesters had raged throughout the day. According to legal activist Dr. Negad El Borai and multiple other sources, El Shafee had gone down to try to stop the clashes and was arrested at random along with...

Magdy El Shafee Publishes “Metro” in English

It's Metro Day at WWB. We're celebrating the publication of Magdy El Shafee's graphic novel, available today from Metropolitan Books in Chip Rossetti's translation. Readers will recall that WWB published an extract in February 2008, and that the book was seized on publication in Egypt and Magdy and his publisher put on trial. You can hear Magdy talk about his book in this interview. The book has appeared in Italy but is still not available in the original Arabic, in Egypt or...

Tahrir Square, One Year Ago

As the events of the Arab Spring unfolded last year, WWB published a number of dispatches from and about the affected countries.  One of our favorites came from Egyptian graphic novelist Magdy El Shafee. With his fellow artists, Magdy was creating and distributing a graphic journal on the abuses of the Mubarak regime. When we invited him to report from Tahrir Square, Magdy documented the uprising exclusively for WWB. One of the challenges of recording demonstrations is capturing the...

The Guest

She has become more like her grandmother than her mother, Hend thinks to herself. She remembered how she used to squirm in her grandmother’s lap, an angry child with a bare bottom. She was hard to keep up with as a child, light and thin, teething and crawling and speaking well before any of her brothers did. She proved that she was a creature capable of surviving and flourishing on the barest necessities of life. Her mother often left her to her own devices. She would crawl up the...

The Egyptian Revolution Won’t be Fooled

Historically, popular revolutions are distinguished by moral purity and an adherence to lofty human principles—dignity, freedom, justice, and truth.  Weren’t these principles the slogans raised by the Egyptian revolution of January 25, 2011?  Popular revolutions burst out against the corruption of governments and the falsehood of absolute powers in all their forms, for absolute power only arises and continues in power, in both the nation and the family, on the basis...

from “Proud Beggars”

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Albert Cossery and Golo slouch through a seedy Cairo

Albert Cossery's 1955 masterpiece, Proud Beggars, takes place in the squalid slums of Cairo. While some residents struggle with oppression, poverty, and corruption, others renounce the hypocrisy of society and embrace their freedom from the material world. Characters include the former university professor Gohar, who has thrown over his previous life to work as a bookkeeper at the brothel; his drug dealer and fellow "proud beggar," Yeghen; the melodramatic revolutionary El Kordi; his...

from “Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded”

Yusuf al-Shirbini wrote his primary work, Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded [Hazz al-Quhuf bi-Sharh Qasid Abi Shaduf], in or shortly after 1686. His only other known work is a homily written entirely with those letters of the Arabic alphabet that do not have dots. Little is known of the author's life, though he appears to have studied at al-Azhar, Cairo's religious university, and to have worked as a bookseller and perhaps, at some point, as a weaver. Brains...

from “Metro”

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Annihilation, from Pyramid Texts

. . . of an old family, much noted, mentioned in manuscripts that have yet to be printed. He personally was well known, much in demand in the town and elsewhere. Those with experience in climbing its four corners assert that his extraordinary gifts were obvious. His steps over the stones had a different rhythm and, despite his forefathers' long history, he brought to it something that no one before him had, for no one before him had ever reached the summit by night. And when! On...

from A Peace of Women

A Baghdad 2003 Lysistrata, adapted from Aristophanes' Play NOTE: El-Ramly's Salam El-Nisaa (A Peace of Women) is a nuanced adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, set in Baghdad only a few days before the US-led invasion. Here, a group of Iraqi women, some of whom have lost many male relatives during Saddam's wars with Iran, decide to do everything they can to stop the new impending war. They unite under the leadership of Labiba. Labiba is El-Ramly's Lysistrata...

The Toughest Guy in Utouf

As evening fell, Boss Bayumi al-Fawwal left the Husseiniya Police Station clutching a "caution against vagrancy," his chest about to explode with exasperation and rage. He frothed and foamed as he muttered and snarled until the sounds built up into a shrill crescendo, crude and incomprehensible. The gathering roar grew louder and higher the further he drew away from the scene of his humiliation, gradually turning into curses, insults and sheer defamation--all screamed at the top of his...

Memories of Chernobyl

NOTE: As a young doctor studying in Kiev in 1986, Mohamed Makhzangi found himself in the midst of a public health catastrophe when the Chernobyl nuclear plant melted down that spring. The longer work from which this excerpt is taken is an "anti-memoir," as he puts it, of his impressions as both an outsider and a victim. Through an array of brief vignettes, snippets of conversations, and fragmentary encounters, he convincingly conveys the mounting panic at the time, the loneliness of...

Shooq

Translator's note: Shooq means "longing" and is also a woman's given name. Following custom, Shooq's mother and father are referred to in the story by the honorifics Umm Shooq and Abu Shooq (Mother/Father of Shooq) respectively. It's a wide street, and short, and anyone who enters it feels out of place there. There are no signs of life except for the old houses on either side, and the earth mound at the end seems to mark the end of the world. Leaving it you find...

A Clean Kill

In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway says: "The only place where you could see life and death, i.e., violent death now that the wars were over, was in the bull ring and I wanted very much to go to Spain where I could study it. I was trying to learn to write, commencing with the simplest things, and one of the simplest things of all and the most fundamental is violent death." R. hadn't yet read Hemingway's book that exhausting afternoon when she'd lost her way and ended up at...

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