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 girlfriend, the prostitute Naila, whom he plans to save; Set Amina, the madam; and Nour El Din, a corrupt policeman. In this extract from the graphic version of the novel, the murder of a young prostitute sends an undercover policeman to the brothel in the guise of a rich merchant from out of town.
From Mendiants et Orgueilleux. Published 2009 by Futuropolis. Copyright 2009 by Futuropolis. By arrangement with the publisher. Rights arranged through Nicolas Grivel for the Sylvain Coissard Agency, France.
Translation copyright 2010 by Lulu Norman. All rights reserved.