Review of Amina Zaydan’s Mahfouz Medal-winning ‘Red Wine’

At the 2010 Naguib Mahfouz Medal ceremony, AUC Press Director Mark Linz produced a freshly printed copy of Amina Zaydan’s Red Wine (AUC Press, 2010). Zaydan’s book, which won the medal back in 2007, was initially scheduled for English-language publication in 2008.

But the translated Red Wine—Zaydan’s second book—just became available this month.

Unfortunately, extra production time has not meant a smooth English version of this compelling and complex novel. The translation has too many strangely turned-out sentences, which mimic the Arabic but fail to clearly express the essence of the prose.

The awkward wording is particularly noticeable in the novel’s opening section, or “overture,” when the reader is plunged into a number of times and places: the Suez conflict, the death of the narrator’s mother years later, the narrator’s failed marriage.

Keep reading the review on Al Masry Al Youm….

Other reviews (by other people) of other recently released novels:

Fi kol osbu’ youm Gomaa (In Every Week There is a Friday), by Ibrahim Abdel-Meguid. Reviewed on Ahram Online by Hanin Hanafi.

Kitabat nawbat al-hirassa (Writings of the security shift): the Letters of Abdelhakim Qassim, ed. Mohammad Shoair.
Reviewed by Youssef Rakha in Al Ahram Weekly.


  1. Shocking editing work at the very least. I’m sure the original didn’t say “Most of the prizes that consisted of candy and whistles went to Asaad” (with the implication that maybe those that consisted of stuffed bears went to Ahmed). Complete disregard for the crucial difference between relative clauses which define and those that merely add information paranthetically.

  2. make that ‘parenthetically’!

    1. To be fair, I think this was the most twisted-up sentence I found. But there were plenty of other irregularities and editing oversights. A shame, since the plotting, character, and layering were so interesting.

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