(Some) Arabic Bestsellers of 2010

In response to the AP’s bits-and-piecey report on contemporary Egyptian fiction, I thought I’d dig up a list of current Arabic bestsellers. This list is certainly not authoritative—nothing close to the list from the Cairo Book Fair (which had nearly 2 million visitors). What follows represents the patrons of just one (albeit very fine) bookstore, Kotob Khan.

Owner Karam Youssef posted these to the store’s Facebook page on March 15. Overlap from January’s book fair bestsellers includes No. 1 (Arab Theology, by Arabic Booker-winning Youssef Zeidan), No. 13 (Do We Deserve Democracy?, Alaa el Aswany) and No. 14, (A Chagrined Laugh, by Bilal Fadl).

Two more from Kotob’s list were on the shortlist for the Arabic Booker: at No. 12, Abdo Khal’s She Throws Sparks (which won the award) and at No. 5, Mohamed Mansi Qandil’s Cloudy Day on the West Side, the excerpt of which I loved.

Other writers on the list who are available in English:

Ibrahim Aslan, of course, pens lovely prose; Alaa al Aswany is someone we all know (he also blogs); Ahmed Zewail is the famous Egyptian-American scientist; Ibrahim Issa is a well-known journalist (in prison?); Galal Amin is of What Ever Happened to the Egyptians fame; Khairy Shalaby is a Naguib Mahfouz Medal-winner who has two more books forthcoming in English, one at the end of this year and another in 2012.

And, if you’re interested in Farah Pahlavi (I confess I’m not), Al Masry Al Youm has an excerpt from her book An Enduring Love.

Excuse my horrible (criminal, really) rendering of the titles in English.

1 – Arab Theology – Youssef Zeidan
2 – Two Rooms and a Hall – Ibrahim Aslan
3 – A Country That Educated Them – Mustafa Shahib
4 – Why Don’t Egyptians Revolt? – Alaa Al Aswany
5 – A Cloudy Day on the West SideMohamed Mansi Qandil
6 – Papers of Sadat – Anis Mansour
7 – Ando Mando – Yahya Mukhtar
8 – Paving Egypt – Omar Taher
9 – Diamond Dust – Ahmed Mourad
10 – The Age of Science – Ahmed Zewail
11 – The Nectar of Life – Galal Amin
12 – She Throws Sparks Abdo Khal
13 – Do We Deserve Democracy? – Alaa Al Aswany
14 – A Chagrined Laugh – Bilal Fadl
15 – The Killing of the Big Man – Ibrahim Issa
16 – The Days of Blue Windows – Adel Ismat
17 – Diary of Farah Pahlavi – Farah Pahlavi
18 – Books’ Nectar – Alaa El-Deeb
19 – AstasiaKhairy Shalaby
20 – Zagazig – Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq

1- اللاهوت العربى و أصول العنف الديني – يوسف زيدان
2- حجرتان و صالة – ابراهيم أصلان
3- بلد متعلم عليها – مصطفى شهيب
4- لماذا لا يثور المصريون – علاء الأسواني
5- يوم غائم فى البر الغربى – محمد المنسي قنديل
6- من اوراق السادات – انيس منصور
7- اندو ماندو – يحيى مختار
8- رصف مصر – عمر طاهر
9- تراب الماس – أحمد مراد
10- عصر العلم – أحمد زويل
11- رحيق العمر – جلال أمين
12- ترمي بشرر – عبده خال
13- هل نستحق الديمقراطية – علاء الأسواني
14- ضحك مجروح – بلال فضل
15- مقتل الرجل الكبير – ابراهيم عيسى
16- أيام النوافذ الزرقاء – عادل عصمت
17- مذكرات فرح بهلوي – فرح بهلوي
18- عصير الكتب – علاء الديب
19- اسطاسية – خيري شلبي
20زغازيغ – أحمد خالد توفيق

Speaking of bestsellers: The British Council has posted bestsellers from Diwan in 2008 and a list of Magrudy bestsellers from 2007. Many of the books are now available in English: 1/4 Gram, Sunset Oasis, Chicago, Taxi, Girls of Riyadh, and The Yacoubian Building.

Somehow Khaled al-Khamissi’s Taxi made both the fiction and nonfiction lists for Diwan, but, I assure you, it’s fiction. The bookstore chain posts a fresher list of bestsellers online; it includes Zeidan’s Arabic Booker-winning Azazeel and his Arab Theology, Al-Aswany’s Why Don’t Egyptians Revolt and his Do We Deserve Democracy? And Essam Youssef’s 1/4 Gram is still on the list, now in English and Arabic.