The annual Book, Art and Music Festival provided all those elements last night: new book releases, an innovative art exhibition featuring top local artists and melodious music by crooners Sobhi Bedeir and Sadek Gellini.
To top it off, it provided them in a glorious setting, at the Cairo Citadel.
For book lovers, the main draw was the piles of (discounted) books. Over 30 new titles were available, representing literature, arts, ancient Egypt and the social sciences.
Gamal Al Ghitani’s “Pyramid Texts rubbed shoulders with “The Great Book of Ancient Egypt by Zahi Hawass and “Edward Said and Critical Decolonization, edited by Ferial Ghazoul.
The authors of 14 of those books were on hand to chat with readers and autograph copies. Some of them made longer trips than others; Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, author of “Wolves of the Crescent Moon, flew in from Saudi Arabia while Fadhil Al-Azzawi (The Last of the Angels) arrived from Berlin.
Also on hand to sign books were jewelry maven Azza Fahmy whose long-awaited book “Enchanted Jewelry of Egypt has been making a big splash since it was unveiled last month, along with Egyptologist extraordinaire Hawass and authors like Mansoura Ez Eldin and Hamdi Abu Golayyel.
Cinema lovers looked out for Viola Shafik’s recently released “Arab Cinema and Popular Egyptian Cinema.
For everyone who’s ever wondered precisely what one is supposed to say, or wear to, weddings, funerals, baby showers and countless other social minefields, Samia Abdennour’s “Egyptian Customs and Festival was a long-awaited beacon of light.
This was more than a book sale, though.
Visitors weaved their way through the brass coffee tables and then took advantage of the benches and cushions to admire the art. Propped up on easels were 24 works of art by leading contemporaries, among them Adel El-Siwi and Mohamed Abla, up for sale to discerning visitors. It was an exhibition that any gallery owner would have been keen to have.