Reading ‘Writing Egypt,’ Free

A number of AUC Press books are now available in e-book editions, cutting the prices somewhat and increasing the accessibility of a number of titles:

4163784These include new titles, like Eslam Mosbah’s Status: Emoas well as selected back titles, mostly very recent ones, including Time Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets (Khairy Shalaby, trans. Michael Cooperson), A Dog With No Tail (Hamdi Abu Golayyel, trans. Robin Moger), The Scents of Marie Claire (Habib Selmi, trans. Fadwa Qasem), and Life is More Beautiful than Paradise (Khaled al-Berry, trans. Humphrey Davies).

A selection of AUC Press scholarly books is also now available in electronic form for libraries through ebraryEBSCO, and Dawson Books.

But I also recently noticed that an 50th-anniversary-of-the-press-inspired collection, Writing Egypt, ed. Aleya Serour, published last fall, is even more accessible, as it’s available as a free PDF download from the AUCP website.  The collection includes a number of works of literature and criticism, including:

  • Taha Hussein’s “Love Story,” from A Passage to France (trans. Kenneth Cragg, E. J. Brill) in The Days, 1997.
  • Tawfiq al-Hakim’s “Miracles for Sale,” from The Essential Tawfiq al-Hakim: Plays, Fiction, Autobiography (trans. and ed.  Denys Johnson-Davies), 2008.
  • Yahya Hakki’s “Story in the Form of a Petition,” from The Lamp of Umm Hashim and other stories, (trans. Denys Johnson-Davies), 2004.
  • Naguib Mahfouz’s “The Father,” from Palace Walk, trans. by William M. Hutchins and Olive E. Kenny, (volume I of The Cairo Trilogy), 1989.
  • Gamal al-Ghitani’s “Naguib Mahfouz’s Childhood,” from The Mahfouz Dialogs (trans. Humphrey Davies), 2007.
  • Samia Mehrez’s “Respected Sir,” from Egyptian Writers between History and Fiction: Essays on Naguib Mahfouz, Sonallah Ibrahim, and Gamal al-Ghitani, 1994.
  • Khairy Shalaby’s “Fist Fight,” from The Lodging House (trans. Farouk Abdel Wahab), 2006.
  • Ferial J. Ghazoul’s “Nomadic Text,” from Nocturnal Poetics: The Arabian Nights in Comparative Context, 1996.
  • Yusuf Idris’s “The Cheapest Nights,” from The Essential Yusuf Idris: Masterpieces of the Egyptian Short Story, ed. Denys Johnson-Davies, 2008.
  • Salwa Bakr’s “City of the Prophets,” from The Man from Bashmour (trans. Nancy Roberts), 2007.
  • Hala El Badry’s “The Bed Sheet,” from Muntaha (trans. Nancy Roberts), 2006.
  • Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s “A Traitor and an Informer,” from A Dog with No Tail (trans. Robin Moger), 2009.
  • Alaa Al Aswany’s “A Rabbit for the Big Fish” is from The Yacoubian Building (trans. Humphrey Davies), 2004.
  • Ahmed Alaidy’s “A Drop of Oil,” from Being Abbas El Abd (trans. Humphrey Davies), 2006.

Although this is more of a sampler platter than any thematized journey, a number of elements jump out as being in conversation with one another. The selection from Palace Walk — which focuses on the patriarch, Ahmad Abd al-Jawad — speaks to Gamal al-Ghitani’s “Naguib Mahfouz’s Childhood” and Dr. Samia Mehrez’s “Respected Sir,” raising questions about the writer’s relationship to his work, censorship, and his material.

Also, there are interesting contrasts in the way memory works when it’s told as a first-person narrative (The Days) vs. when it’s re-told by another author (The Mahfouz Dialogs). Or the creation of canon, and which stories stay important (to whom), along with a discussion of which pieces are reproduced here and Dr. Ghazoul’s essay.

In any case, it’s worth browsing.