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Learn Your Means Via Cairo

Read Your Way Through Cairo


In the identical vein is Albert Cossery’s “The Colours of Infamy.” A really quick learn, the e book follows a well-mannered pickpocket and serves as a information of types to the dynamics of the town’s historic markets — the swindling, the bargaining, the haggling for a deal. When you set foot within the Khan el-Khalili bazaar, and even onto the pyramids plateau in Giza, the place you’ll be swarmed with provides for camel rides, horse rides and guides, chances are you’ll recognize having learn this e book.

Cairo is characterised largely by its layers of structure — Fatimid, Mamluk, Khedival. Nevertheless it additionally has a wealthy historical past of contemporary structure, from turn-of-the-century revivalism to concrete expressionism and modernist design. This consists of the homes of iconic cultural figures. The home of the singer Oum Kulthoum has been demolished, however related properties by the identical architect, Ali Labib Gabr, nonetheless stand within the neighborhood, together with what was as soon as my grandmother’s home, just some blocks away. This isn’t a novel, however Mohamed Elshahed’s “Cairo Since 1900: An Architectural Information” provides a superb information to this contemporary age and makes for an ideal walking-tour companion, talking not solely of the buildings and their historic significance but additionally of that period.

In fiction, Waguih Ghali’sBeer within the Snooker Membership is a cult traditional initially written in English that depicts post-colonial Cairo via the eyes of a nationalist, Anglophone aristocrat grappling with a regime change and new socialist insurance policies beneath President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Though it was written in 1964, it additionally tells the story of Egypt now.

On the different finish of the category and experiential spectrum throughout that very same political regime is Sonallah Ibrahim’s experimental novel That Odor.” Printed in 1968, it tells the story of a not too long ago launched prisoner and his malaise as he struggles, and fails, to readjust to on a regular basis life on the skin. There are numerous days on this fast-changing metropolis that really feel like this novel to me.

André Aciman’s essay assortment “False Papers,” for a journey to Alexandria. Born and raised there, Aciman returns a long time after his household left for exile and tries to retrace the town because it existed in his reminiscence. He finds little of it left, however his search captures in vivid element the town as it’s best remembered. His pensive e book strikes throughout time and geography, from Egypt to Europe, however, even there, it’s nonetheless about Aciman’s Alexandria. To carry on to that sentiment — the trying and the loss — it’s best to then learn Constantine P. Cavafy’s “Collected Poems.” The 2 writers, each born within the historic port metropolis, kind an unofficial Alexandrian compendium.

  • Novels by Naguib Mahfouz

  • “Within the Eye of the Solar” and “The Map of Love,” Ahdaf Soueif

  • “Slipping,” Mohamed Kheir

  • “Cairo: Metropolis of Sand,” Maria Golia

  • “The Colours of Infamy,” Albert Cossery

  • “Cairo Since 1900: An Architectural Information,” Mohamed Elshahed

  • “Beer within the Snooker Membership,” Waguih Ghali

  • “That Odor,” Sonallah Ibrahim

  • “False Papers,” André Aciman

  • “Collected Poems,” Constantine P. Cavafy



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