Author breaks language rules in uninspired self-help book

Heba El-Sherif
4 Min Read

N ew media outlets have made a journalist out of just about anyone, but when one’s thoughts escape their blog and enter the godly world of books, readers expect research, depth and proper English.

Last week, Imz (Iman) Khattab celebrated the release of her non-fiction paperback “Cracking the Code of the Egyptian Relationshit,” introducing yet another self-help manual to the shelves of bookstores across Cairo and Alexandria.

The title might be catchy for its play on the word relationship, and in Egypt, foul language is not often spotted on book covers. However, “Cracking the Code” gives a sense that one is in for life-altering revelations; rocket science.
As it turns out, that was wishful thinking.

“Relationshit” is a lengthy compilation of silly chit-chats and girls nights out trying to unravel the puzzling nature of relationships.

In about 200 pages, Khattab examines the characteristics of 10 different men and 10 different women, all blamed for their lousy relationships.

The reader meets “The Criticizer,” “The Year Waster,” “The Married Lover Boy,” “The Junkie” and — a favorite — “The Serial Screwer.” Mid-way through the book we are introduced to the female of the sinners: “Intolerably Independent,” “Ridiculously Raghaya (Talkative),” “Jeopardizingly Jealous,” “Majorly Mo3aqada (Has Major Issues)” and “Perverse Priorities Person.”

After discussing her “convicts’” character flaws, Khattab shifts to dissecting the reasons behind their abhorrent behavior, listing explanations as to why men and women act in certain ways when in a relationship. She then warns her readers to look out for the “Danger Signs,” showers them with tips on how to get out of the lousy relationship and how to control the damage caused by the breakup.

The bulk of Khattab’s research was collected through her personal encounters and friends’ experiences, and the book surely stands out as such: uninspiring and linguistically weak.

In the chapter titled “The Double Faced Man,” Khattab says: “In many of the cases I talked to that went through similar relations their break ups were absolutely ridiculous. The guys actually chose insane excuses to break off the relation, but they were a reflection of what he’s been hiding throughout the whole time [sic]. In one case, the guy broke up with his girlfriend because she bought a t-shirt that said ‘I Like Cute Boys!’”

At another point in the book, the author suggests that her readers cut out a statement and stick it to their mirror: “A man will give the women the minimum amount of commitment that’s enough to keep her.” If that’s true, then a gender war is long overdue.

“Relationshit” is littered with errors, from grammatical mistakes and misuse of semicolons to blasphemous sentence structure. In addition, the author uses English and Arabic interchangeably throughout the book, spelling out Arabic phrases using Latin letters in “amma el hagga,” “gonoon 3azama,”“yedeeki 3ala demaghek,” “et3a2dty,” to list four, coming off as an amateur writer.

As far as the target audience of Khattab’s “Relationshit” is concerned, this reviewer is not among them. But if you are a self-help junkie, this book might just be the one to facilitate your shift to the other (sane) side.

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