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New arrivals

As summer comes to an end, it is time to pack away the entertaining beach-reads and browse through the new arrivals in Cairo’s bookstores. Brand new novels by Arab authors and new translations of treasured tales are vying for shelf space and the attention of the avid reader. Here is our pick for the coming month

Tales of Encounter by Yusuf Idris

Translated by Rasheed El-Enany

The book is a collection of three novellas by Yusuf Idris, who was, according to the publishers, “undoubtedly one of Egypt’s most talented and versatile writers in the second half of the twentieth century.” The first two novellas in this volume, Madam Vienna and The Secret of His Power, come from the peak period in his career, the late 1950s and early 1960s, while New York 80 belongs to his late period, the 1980s. Yet, according to the publishers, “something holds these three works together, despite their different periods and their scattered settings: Vienna; an Egyptian Delta village; and New York. They all deal with a seminal theme in Arabic fiction since its nascent years and until today: the East–West encounter, often treated allegorically by Arab writers through a love story between an Arab man and a Western woman who stand for their respective cultures. In these three novellas, Idris harnesses his remarkable narrative skills to tell us some of the most memorable stories of the encounter in Arabic fiction.”


Life on Hold by Fahd al-Atiq

Translated by Jonathan Wright

This new book by Fahd al-Atiq shares in insider’s view of life in the city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. According to the publisher, “al-Atiq explores this world through the character of Khaled, whose dysfunctional life, humdrum but rich in memories and introspection, bridges the gap between the old impoverished world of Najd and the consumerism of the years after the various oil booms, symbolised in this novel by the family’s move from the lively back streets of the old city to an isolated dream villa in the new suburbs, where their dreams are never quite fulfilled and their lives remain permanently ‘on hold’.”

Saudi Arabian author Fahd al-Atiq is the author of two novels and five collections of short stories. Life on Hold is his first book to appear in English.


Mapping Arab Women’s Movements edited by Pernille Arenfeldt and Nawar Al Hassan Golley

The publishers invite scholars and others interested in gender issues in the Arab world to enjoy “this pioneering collection of analyses that focus on the ideologies and activities of formal women’s organisations and informal women’s groups across a range of Arab countries. With contributions on Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the Arab diaspora in the United States, Mapping Arab Women’s Movements contributes to delineating similarities and differences between historical and contemporary efforts toward greater gender justice. The authors explore the origins of women’s movements, trace their development during the past century and address the impact of counter-movements, alliances and international collaborations within the region and beyond.”


The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents For Life by Roger Owen

According to the the publishers, “monarchical presidential regimes in the Arab world looked as though they would last indefinitely—until events in Tunisia and Egypt made clear their time was up. This is the first book to lay bare the dynamics of a governmental system that largely defined the Arab Middle East in the twentieth century, and the popular opposition they engendered.”

In reviews, this synopsis has been called a bit misleading, because the author finished writing the main part of the book before the revolution in Tunisia started. Still, it should prove to be an interesting read in its comparisons of the men who saw their rule for life end sooner than expected.



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