Novelist Mona Zaki and art critic Mohamed El-Shazly at her book discussion in the Cairo Book Fair
Attending the discussion and the book signing of Zaki's novel were a host of Egypt's foreign ambassadors, including the ambassador of Belgium Francois Gourmet, Austrian ambassador Georg Pöstinger, ambassador of Mexico Rosaura Leonora Rueda Gutiérrez, ambassador of Korea Kim Yonghyon, ambassador of Japan Oka Hiroshi, and his Turkish counterpart Salih Mutlu Şen, and their wives, together with the wife of the Qatari ambassador Eman Al-Ansary, Nile TV director Taghreed Hussein, art critic Mohamed El-Shazly, and writer Fatemah Naout.
Acclaimed by critics and readers alike, her previous novel, “Kingdom of the Heart” - translated into French and published in Paris - aroused strong emotions. This time, in her new novel "Three Queens from Egypt", Zaki sets out to depict the lives of characters deeply rooted in reality, confronted with the vagaries of life.
The story is built around a solid friendship, that of three women linked by deep affinities, evoking the spiritual complicity of soul mates. Each of these female characters, united by an unbreakable pact of friendship, presents a modern incarnation of the illustrious queens of ancient Egypt, bearing witness to their mutual devotion.
The first, Hoda, an academic figure with an assertive personality, is nicknamed Hatshepsut. The second, celebrated for her beauty and unconditional love for life, is likened to Nefertiti, and the third, Nana, whose Greco-Egyptian heritage enriches her personality and who is known for her complexity, debating spirit, and keen intelligence, embodies Cleopatra. Together, they face life's ups and downs, alternating between success and failure, joy and sorrow, obstacles and sacrifices. They face emotional, professional, and social crises and challenges. Their exceptional friendship and deep, abiding affection give them a resilience that seems to defy fate itself.
Zaki weaves a narrative where the adventures of the three protagonists intersect with a historical analysis of key events in recent Egyptian history. Structured in fourteen chapters, the novel takes us on an emotional journey as these women search for happiness and love, despite pain and uncertainty. They experience reunions, separations, departures into the unknown, constant challenges and intense loves that tear the soul apart between personal identity, obligations, and love in all its power and vulnerability. Tragic events punctuate the story, intensifying the emotions and sublimating the spirit of the characters.
A unique and serious novel that combines subtle narration and emotional richness, "Three Queens from Egypt" stands out as a must-read. The author's talent, already recognized, shines through in this novel.
This is the 55th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, a major annual event, held from 26 January to 6 February. With the participation of 1,000 exhibitors from 53 countries, the fair is the most important literary event in the Middle East, second only to the renowned Frankfurt Fair in Germany, the world's largest publishing fair. Norway was chosen as the guest of honour for this edition of the prestigious cultural event.