The online journal Words Without Borders has put together another interesting edition of their “Words Without Borders Recommends” missive, their “quarterly tip sheet about WWB writers who we believe can be successfully published in an English-language market. ”
Recommended authors include Etienne van Heerden, Yehoshua Bar-Yosef and…Magdy al-Shafee, author of the somewhat ill-fated Metro. (If you know how to get a copy in Arabic, please let the rest of us know. Since it was yanked from Cairo shelves in the author and publisher fined, it hasn’t been seen anywhere. However, al-Shafee will reportedly try publishing it again within the next six months.)
Well, no, it has been seen somewhere: As WWB notes, Metro is being published in German and Italian. English-language rights remain available, and apparently a complete English translation is available as well (for interested publishers).
WWB’s promotional excerpt about Metro focuses mainly on the controversy that surrounds the book, but also notes: “Magdy El Shafee’s Metro caused a sensation when it was published by Cairo’s Dar-al-Malameh in 2008. Hailed as the first adult Egyptian graphic novel, Metro portrayed a Cairo teeming with greed and official corruption, and suggested that criminal behavior was not only understandable but justified.”
I’m not quite sure about this sort of analysis, but what do I know about book-selling:
The continued interest in the case, as well as the response to the author’s appearances at the Abu Dhabi book fair earlier this year, suggest a large potential market for publication in English.
You can read an excerpt from Metro on WWB, translated by Humphrey Davies.