Who are the ‘Arabic Booker’ Nominees? Muhammad Al-Mansi Qindeel

Like Mansoura Ez Eldin, Muhammad Al-Mansi Qindeel is already familiar to English-language readers—or, in any case, a tiny cadre of English-language readers—as his novel, Moon over Samarqand, has come out from AUC Press.

I have not read it, nor have I been able to find a review of it. Another book I’ll have to turn up in the new year.

Al-Mansi Qindeel was born in 1946 in the Egyptian delta city of al-Mahalla al-Kubra, where his father was a laborer. His first novel, Breaking of the Spirit, was apparently inspired by labor unrest in the city.

Qindeel studied hard, graduated medical school, and worked as a doctor in the countryside before dedicating himself to writing. He currently lives in Kuwait, where he works as an editor for monthly magazine Al-‘Arabi. It was reportedly an al-‘Arabi assignment that took him to Uzbekistan, where he met the taxi driver who served as inspiration for the main character in his novel Moon over Samarqand.

He’s won two awards for his writing, the State Incentive Award in 1988 and the Sawiris Foundation Award in 2006.   He’s also published short story collections and children’s books.

What’s Al-Mansi Qindeel’s Book About?

A Cloudy Day on the West Side:

“Muhammad Al-Mansi Qindeel evokes the period of great archeological discovery and nationalist struggle in Egypt. A young girl is taken from home by her mother when she is forced to flee her abusive husband. After changing her name and fastening a crucifix around her tiny arm, the mother leaves her daughter at a village in Asyut. The fate of the girl, who grows up to become a translator, intersects with that of a number of historical figures from the period, including Howard Carter, Lord Cromer and Abdulrahman al-Rifa’i. This thrilling tale is brought to life by the author’s detailed and vivid descriptions of real historical events and places.”