Ihsan Abdel Kouddous’s I Do Not Sleep appears this month from Hoopoe Fiction, in Jonathan Smolin’s translation.
Ihsan Abdel Quddous
The small village had grown used to hosting a Qur’an reciter from Cairo in the month of Ramadan. His melodious recital enlivened the nights and lent the villagers a proud edge over the people of the surrounding hamlets.
“I have no stake in this story outside of a desire to tell it.”
Dozens of of Ihsan Abdel Quddous’s (1919-1990) popular novels have been adapted to film, many of them popular and groundbreaking cinematic works in their own right.
“My book really is an examination of how he participated in the coup ,and how he believed fundamentally that the Free Officers were going to install democracy, and—once he realized that they were actually installing military dictatorship—the way he dissented, in the editorials and in person, the way that he was jailed, and the way he turned to fiction to express his dissent directly to Nasser.”
“You don’t know me, even if I did turn your head both times you saw me. Once on Sidi Bishr beach in Alexandria and another time at the Semiramis Hotel in Cairo. Each time, I didn’t pay much attention to you, as I’d gotten used to turning men’s heads.”
“Twenty-eight years have passed since Ihsan Abdel Quddous’s death. His novels are still widely circulated throughout the Arab world—albeit mainly pirated digital copies. The challenges and conflict endured by his characters are as relevant today as they ever were. But when I tried to search for their English translations, I could hardly find any in print.”