Abdellatif is an award-winning Egyptian poet, short-story writer, screenwriter, and novelist. His Law of Inheritance — which was his debut novel, and won the 2005 Sawiris Prize — is finally forthcoming in English this April, from Seagull Books, also in Moger’s translation.
“A Study in Oedipal Love” opens:
He was paging through her pictures on Facebook. He’d discovered they were set to public. Backwards through the decades he went, from her fifties to her forties and thirties, then the university years, and finally the photographs from school. They had come across one another a while ago, here on this site; taken by her sharp comments and sardonic humor he had added her to his list of friends. The pictures did not tell him much, but one day he woke with a start in the early hours of morning: something deep in the past, recalled. He got out of bed and switched on the computer, making straight for the blue-blocked page in order to click back through the albums, and when he came to one in particular he sat frowning and peering at the screen. It dated from her time at university and showed her with hair cut short and her dark-brown face, the very image of one of the celebrated beauties of that age, the happy Seventies, whose fame had flared like a meteor and quickly died: Hayat Qindeel—a darker, more classically Egyptian-looking version of Soad Hosni, who had never achieved the fame she deserved and who had soon vanished from the world of cinema and celebrity. It was said she’d died.
The woman was Noura, the Noura he’d known all those years ago. How was it he hadn’t made the connection till now, till this flash of inspiration between sleep and waking?