The Barman: New release and bestseller

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 22 Feb 2014

A new novel entitled 'The Barman' by judge and writer Achraf El-Achmawi is already a bestselling award winner

The Barman cover

The Egyptian Lebanese Publishing House released during the 45th Cairo International Book Fair a new novel by Judge Achraf El-Achmawi entitled The Barman.

At the closing ceremony of the fair, The Barman won the best novel award of the General Egyptian Book Organisation (GEBO). It also became a bestseller, with publisher printing four editions in less than a month. At the book fair, 10,000 copies of the book were sold.

The Barman is 240 pages long and Amr El-Kafrawi designed its cover. The book explores the bizarre and sometimes dreadful world of bars, relating the life stories of their clients and their relationship with the bartender who becomes their drinking companion, knows all their secrets, is the silent judge of their crimes and the record of their real personalities.

Publisher Mohamed Rashad told Ahram Online that El-Achmawi has carefully selected his heroes and plunged deeply into their personalities. We find people dissimilar in their social standards, cultural and physical features, but all are brought together in a well-known pub in the elegant district of Zamalek on the Nile bank.

Rashad pointed out that throughout the thrilling and fast paced episodes of the novel, readers find a melee of glittered promises and false feelings as alcohol plays with minds and the symptoms of drunkeness arise. When the barman and the drunkards regain lucidity, they discover the bare and ugly truths that surround them, and always too late. 

Well-known novelist Alaa El-Aswani has praised The Barman, saying it should be made into a movie. “The Barman is a turning point in El-Achmawi's career as novelist,” El-Aswani said.

The Barman is the fourth novel of El-Achmawi. His first, The Era of Hyenas, was published in 2011 on the eve of Egypt's revolution and proved a great success. It reflects politics in a fictional jungle, where animals are the protagonists.

His second novel, Toya, was released in 2012 relates a love story borne between an Egyptian British doctor and an African lady when he was in Kenya. Morals, good and bad guys, adventures, humour, but also all the predictability that usually comes with a fairy tale, are evoked through his work. Toya was nominated for the 2013 Booker International Prize for Arab Fiction.

His third novel, Al-Morshid (The Informant), reviews Egypt's history and it's societal changes from the period immediately after the military defeat by Israel in June 1967 until the revolution of 25 January 2011 erupted. Al-Morshid won the Goodreads Choice Award for best novel in 2013.

El-Achmawi also wrote a non-fiction book called Legitimate Robberies, which relates the history of the illicit trade in Egypt’s antiquities over the last 200 years. The book will be released in English and German in March.

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