On a Book Unbanned in Egypt

Yesterday, Jack Shenker issued a statement about his book — The Egyptians: A Radical Story — which had been impounded by the censors’ office and held in limbo for the last few months:

radicalAs Shenker noted, “The book was withdrawn for ‘investigation’ by the authorities without any explanation, and repeated enquiries to multiple government ministries failed to elicit any meaningful response.”

However, the book has now been released from custody and is on shelves in Egyptian bookshelves. An Arabic translation is due out from Kotob Khan books next year, although that is another potential hurdle for the book.

Shenker took the opportunity of his book’s un-banning to highlight the situation faced by Egyptian writers, even though censorship is technically proscribed by the constitution:

Egypt’s system of cultural censorship is byzantine, opaque and completely shielded from democratic scrutiny; a foreigner like myself, who is associated with a major international media organisation and can rely upon a good network of contacts to ask questions in the right places, stands a much better chance of plotting a way through it than an Egyptian colleague who might find themselves locked behind bars for daring to bring their books, films or artwork to a wider audience.

A US edition of the book will be published by The New Press in December 2016.

Also: Two extracts from the book are available online: “The future of the Egyptian Revolution” and “Egypt: Snapshots of a Revolution.”