I was surprised to see Waguih Ghali’s Beer in the Snooker Club on Kotob Khan’s June bestseller list. After all, the book was originally published in 1964, and I hadn’t heard anything about Ghali in the news that might cause a run on this classic book.
Other books on the bestseller list are more easily explicable: Bilal Fadl’s hot A Chagrined Laugh, the Arabic Booker-winning Azazeel as well as the Response to Azazeel. Alaa el-Aswany’s latest nonfiction.
But Karam Youssef, owner of Kotob Khan, explained that her staff often suggests classics, such as Beer in the Snooker Club, to book-browsers. Beer in the Snooker Club, she said, is a perennial seller.
The book originally came out in English in 1987, but disappeared from the English-language literary landscape. Fortunately, Serpent’s Tail will rectify that with an attractive new edition of Beer in the Snooker Club, translated by Iman Mersal and Reem al-Rayes, set for release in December of this year.
Serpent’s Tail quotes Ahdaf Soueif as saying:
Beer in the Snooker Club is one of the best novels about Egypt ever written. In the protagonist, Ram, a passionate nationalist who is nonetheless an anglophile, Waguih Ghali creates a hero who is tragic, funny and sympathetic. Through him we are presented with an authentic and acutely observed account of Egyptian society at a time of great upheaval. It is marvellously cheering that this novel is available again after twenty years.
As our friend Hadouta notes below, the new Arabic edition will be coming out from Dar el Shorouk.