Generally, I gravitate toward fiction—probably as one of my obstinacies, since the rest of the world is racing like a bullet toward memoir. But as I read and review the remarkable memoir Life is More Beautiful than Paradise, by Khaled al-Berry, it reminds me of another, Muhammad Khudayyir’s Basrayatha.

I reviewed Basrayatha a while back for The Quarterly Conversation.

Basrayatha, I suppose, rewards only the serious reader, whereas Life is More Beautiful can hit a larger audience. But both do a magnificent job of setting up a whole landscape—Khudayyir with history, and al-Berry with his detailed portrait of 1980s and 1990s Asyut.

Basrayatha is worth visiting and re-visiting for anyone who loves language; anyone who’s interested in different ways history and memoir can be structured.