Bikya Masr has an interesting piece about the business of buying books in Cairo, seeming to attribute the rise in book-buying solely to the publication of The Yacoubian Building in 2002.
I’d have to argue that this revived passion for books can’t really sit on the shoulders of Mr. el Aswany. A few more factors: 1) new money into book awards and book festivals from the Gulf, 2) compelling young writers such as Ahmed Alaidy and Ghada Abdelaal, the author of the satirical blog-turned-book I Want To Get Married, 3) perhaps very critically, all the bloggers who have revitalized the act of writing and reading.
2002 was also the year when Diwan opened its first shop. There are now 11 branches in Cairo and Alexandria. This spring, Diwan opened a 134-square-meter shop inside the venerable (and giant) Cairo University.
There are eight Al-Shorouk bookstores, affiliated with the powerhouse Dar El-Shorouk publishing house.
Also, there are a number of beautiful little independents. Three years ago, the lovely little Kotob Khan opened in Ma’adi. And a giant new AUC bookstore is under construction on the corner of Qasr al-Aini and Sheikh Rihan.
More reading: An interesting PowerPoint from Diwan about the trends in the Cairo book market
Also: Make the IPAF shortlist with a blog campaign?
Mekkawi Said discussed his novel, Cairo Swan Song, with Susanne Schanda:
“Then numerous bloggers talked about the book and recommended it. This intensive promotion on the Internet finally led to the book being included on the shortlist of last year’s Arabic Booker Prize. Only then did newspaper critics write about it,” says Said.
I suppose I can’t start a retroactive campaign for Sonallah Ibrahim’s Stealth. Bother.