Soha Hesham , Tuesday 6 Jun 2023

Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid
Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid


Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid, Hamel Al-Sohouf Al-Qadima (Old Newspaper Carrier), Al-Shorouk Publishing House, 2023, pp294


Award-winning Egyptian author Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid comes back with a new novel in which the protagonist Iman Al-Nazer leaves his house and heads to the café he used to visit after the Covid lockdown. He is a writer with a busy life full of friends and gatherings and he tries to stay optimistic and hopeful in the face of a suffocating, frustrating public sphere. His warm relationship with his wife Ibtihal offers him a refuge when he gives up writing and steps away from politics after the shattered dream of the January Revolution.

One day he receives letters from an old friend that includes clippings from old articles that revive his memory of everything he has ever written. Through these letters Abdel-Meguid revisits and documents some crucial events that followed the 25 January Revolution, while the incidents take place between Downtown, the site of the revolution, and the new West Cairo residential compound of Hadaek Al-Ahram in West Cairo where he lives, and hankers back nostalgically to Alexandria, the author’s hometown.  

Abdel-Meguid novelist was born in 1946 in Alexandria, he studied philosophy at Alexandria University and graduated in 1973, he published six collections of short stories and more than 20 novels among which were; La Ahad Yanam fil Askandariya (No One Sleeps in Alexandria, 1999), Al-Balda Al-Okhra (The Other Place, 2004), Teyour Al-Anbar (Birds of Amber, 2005), Beit Al-Yasmine (The House of Jasmine, 2005), Al-Sayyad wal Yamam (The Hunter and the Doves, 2006) and Fi Kol Esbou Youm Gomaa (Every Week Has a Friday, 2009). Many of his novels were translated into English and French and others languages. In 2011 he published Ayam Al-Tahrir (Days of Tahrir), following the 25 January Revolution. Among many other awards, he received the Egyptian State Prize for Literature and the Sawiris Prize for his novel Every Week Has a Friday in 2009 that was adapted for television.


Hisham Al-Kheshin, Naaoumi wa Ekhwateha (Naaoumi and Her Sisters), The Egyptian-Lebanese Publishing House, 2023, pp208

In this novel, author Hisham Al-Kheshin goes on a psychological journey through fear, complexity and confusion, embodied in the mind of his female heroine Naaoumi who hears three voices coming from within, those of Naaema, Neemat and Noni. Naaoumi narrates her story and what she has suffered which led to her current state. She tackles many of the challenges that women face in the Arab societies.

Hisham Al-Kheshin is a Berlin-based Egyptian author born in 1963 who started his literary career in 2009 when he published his two collections of short stories Hekayat Masriya Gedan (Very Egyptian Tales, 2009) and Duet (a shared book with author Rasha Samir). He published many novels among which were; Ma Waraa Al-Abwab (Behind Doors, 2010), 7 Ayam fil Tahrir (7 Days in Tahrir, 2011), Adam Al-Masri (2012), Graphite (2014), that was nominated in the long list for the Arabic Booker. And later he published Hadath fi Berlin (Happened in Berlin, 2018), Shelet Lebon (Lebon’s Group, 2020) and his latest Bel Hebr Al-Azraq (In Blue Ink, 2021).

Khairy Beshara, Al-Kebriaa Al-Seiny: Qesset Kong Yong (The Chinese Pride: The Story of Kong Yong), Al-Shorouk Publishing House, 2023, pp520

This is an exciting novel by filmmaker Khairy Beshara, his first, which indulges his fascination with Chinese culture. The story revolves around Kong Yong, who flees from a small village in China to Egypt in the 1930s to escape hunger and poverty after he loses the woman he loves to an evil gang. When he arrives in Egypt, he embarks on a journey of self accomplishment and social ascendance hoping to return one day for revenge. During his journey he witnesses the social transformation of Egypt from a monarchy to a republic. His remarkable sense of pride offers him many opportunities for success and love, and women play a huge role in shaping his path. In this framework Beshara explores human transformation, thinking about justice and freedom.


Mohamed Kheir, Tamshia Qasira Maa Lulu (A Short Walk with Lulu), Al-Kotob Khan Publishing House, 2023, pp132

In his latest collection of short stories, Mohamed Kheir experiments with unusual beginnings and endings, capturing an idea or a sentiment which he then traces through his story in his trademark poetic concision, showing a distinctive vision that leaves the reader eager for more. Kheir decides to pay attention to a very small concept that is strongly embedded in Egyptian culture, that of the little bird that informs parents of their children’s doings. In the first story, “Lost”, a child learns that his mother knows everything he does in school from this bird. One day he notices a small bird near his window and he is convinced that this is it. Later, the mother suffers from cancer and dies in hospital, and when he finds out the boy decides to follow the bird, convinced that it will take him to where his mother has gone.

Kheir is a poet and a lyricist as well as a fiction writer. His collections of short stories include Remsh Al-Ain (2016) and Afareit Al-Radio (2011). His collection of vernacular poems Leil Khargi (Ext. Night, 2001) received the Ministry of Culture Award. His second novel Eflat Al-Asabei (Slipping, 2021) made a remarkable impact in its English translation, published by Two Lines Press.

Sherine Hanaai, Seriyet Al-Qibtiya: Rehlet Al-Khoroug Lel Nahar (Biography of the Copt: The Journey of Coming Forth by Day), Al-Rewak Publishing House, 2023, pp267

Inspired by true events, this novel tells the story of a Coptic girl who lived through the Roman persecution of the Copts of Egypt, describing how her familiar world collapses all around her: the flood on one side and Roman soldiers burning down her village on the other side. She is not a saint or a princess but she is the daughter of the chief of the village who abruptly finds herself in the wilderness travelling on the back of a donkey then by boat, crossing rivers and mountains along with thousands of strangers heading to an unknown place. The novel depicts the social and the religious conditions of the era, taking the reader on an exceptional journey from southern Egypt to northern Switzerland by way of the Nile River, Alexandria and the Mediterranean.

Sherine Hanaai is an animation filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts. Her novels include Sandouk Al-Douma (The Dolls’ Box) and Necrophilia.  

Omar Taher, Omar Taher Aando Deyouf: Hekayat Sadiqa Lel Bieaa (Omar Taher Has Guests: Eco-Friendly Stories), Al-Karma Publishing House, 2023, pp176

This is a rathe unclassifiable book in the form of 15 tales that vary in length, the one common factor between them being the author whose name is in the title. Taher tackles a range of issues that interest him, holding forth on Diego Maradona, music or, as in the first piece, his family. In the last piece, “Days with Nothing Happening”, Taher discusses his routine, boredom and the mystery of human life. In another piece he takes non the world of journalism through the experience of falling in love with a journalist, dealing with the story in a concise, cinematic way.

Born in Sohag in 1975, Taher is a vernacular poet and a humorist who has published a number of books including Mann Allam Abdel-Nasser Shorb Al-Sagayer? (Who Taught Abdel-Nasser to Smoke Cigarettes?, 2020), Baad Ma Yenamo Al-Eyal (After the Children Sleep, 2021) and others. He has also written screenplays.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 1 June, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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