“Ard El-Ghagar” (Land of the Gypsies) is a novel by Ahmed Abu Haiba, the Egyptian entrepreneur, producer and writer. Abu Haiba has been known for his innovation and creativity throughout his entire professional life, but in this novel, he really outdid himself, which is clear from the great and positive reviews the novel got from readers and critics.
In his novel, “Ard El-Ghagar”, Abu Haiba takes his readers deep into the strange and mysterious land of the gypsies, where wisdom, tradition and magic are strongly present in painting the present as well as shaping the future of the gypsy clans.
The story begins with the death of one of the clans’ ‘mubajala’ or the “glorified”, the spiritual female leaders of their people, and continues with the troubles and uncertainties associated with the traditions and customs of finding the new mubajala. Abu Haiba then expands the scope of the story to inter and intra clan disputes, passing through various stories of love, family, losses, and regrets.
A fascinating thing about the novel, is that the main focus characters of this novel are mostly women, who are widely different in character, but closely connected in strength and inspiration; the female leaders of the four different clans around which the story revolves are such strong leaders who own ultimate wisdom and can read the hearts of their people, “Sahbaa” possessor of the wild sole, the strong heart, and the unbreakable determination, and “Wahaj” who represents all that is innocent and pure.
Abu Haiba does not at all ignore the role of nature in the life of the gypsies. Nature is strongly present in the lines of the story; the desert, the plants, the rain are all not merely scenery, but almost actual characters in the story.
The best thing about Abu Haiba’s book is not only the strange and fascinating life he shows his readers, but the beautiful, elegant, simple, and flawless language he uses. Abu Haiba’s writing style is in fact the most capturing thing in the novel, he arranges metaphors, words of wisdom, and even poetry in a an easy flow that makes the reader wish for it to never end. Most of those who read the book said that it transferred them to the land of the gypsies, and made them feel as if they were part of the story, to the extent that when they finished it, they felt out of place in their own environments.
The only negative thing one might find in this novel is the lack of excitement; the story is sometimes so slow that the reader might actually get bored of the dialogue.
“Ard El-Ghagar” was first published by Dar Dawen Publisher in January 2014, and the third edition was introduced in the 2015 Cairo International Book Fair. The fair also witnessed the very much anticipated release of the first edition of Ahmed Abu Haiba’s new novel “The Ultimate Love” from Dar Laila for Publishing & Distributing.