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Graphic Lit

from the February 2008 issue

from “Metro”

Click image below to enlarge


Magdy El Shafee's Metro, the first adult Arabic graphic novel, is set in a chaotic modern Cairo pulsing with financial and social insecurity. Shihab, a young software designer who has been forced into debt by corrupt officials, decides to get out of his dilemma by taking “direct action”: robbing a bank, with the help of Mustafa, his loyal but reluctant sidekick. He finds himself caught in a vortex of financial and political corruption; the only relief comes from Dina, an idealistic journalist. In this extract Shihab plans and executes the robbery with surprising results. Note that panels should be read from right to left.



From Metro. Copyright Magdy El Shafee. Translation copyright 2008 by Humphrey Davies. All rights reserved.


Magdy El Shafee

Magdy El Shafee was born in Libya in 1961. He started a comic series for children in Alaa Eddin in 2003 and started publishing strips in El Dostoor in 2005. That year he also launched the first comics website in Arabic, www.magdycomics.com. He has published many underground and independent works in Egypt, and in 2006 was recognized by UNESCO. His book Metro, the first adult Arabic graphic novel in Egypt, was published in 2012.


Translated from Arabic by Humphrey Davies

Humphrey Davies is an award-winning translator of some twenty works of modern Arabic literature, among them Alaa Al-Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, four novels by Elias Khoury, including Gate of the Sun, and Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg over Leg. He has also made a critical edition, translation, and lexicon of the Ottoman-period Hazz al-quhuf bi-sharh qasid Abi Shaduf (Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded) by Yusuf al-Shirbini and compiled with a colleague an anthology entitled Al-‘ammiyyah al-misriyyah al-maktubah: mukhtarat min 1400 ila 2009 (Egyptian Colloquial Writing: selections from 1400 to 2009). He read Arabic at the University of Cambridge, received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, and, previous to undertaking his first translation in 2003, worked for social development and research organizations in Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, and Sudan. His awards include the inaugural Banipal Prize for Arabic literary translation for Gate of the Sun. He is affiliated with the American University in Cairo, where he lives.

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