Inspired by a fiery essay by an Egyptian professor, Ursula and MLQ discuss cosmopolitanism, nostalgia, and literary representations of the city of Alexandria. Marcia also talks about three new books – from Iraq, Southern Sudan and Lebanon/London. She loved two of them.Show notes:
May Hawas’s essay How Not to Write on Cosmopolitan Alexandria takes as its starting point Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet and particularly the first book, Justine.
The renowned poetry of Constantine P. Cavafy has shaped Alexandria’s literary image and aura. Ibrahim Abdelmeguid is perhaps Egypt’s best-known Alexandria-focused author (read his No One Sleeps in Alexandria, for instance, trans. Farouk Abdel Wahab), although Naguib Mahfouz’s Miramar may the best-known book set in the city. Other major Alexandrian writers include Alaa Khaled and the late Edwar al-Kharrat. Bahaa Abdelmeguid’s St. Theresa, trans. Chip Rossetti, is, in part, about the 1960s expulsions from Alexandria. MLQ admits to not being a fan of Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel, sorry.
Marwan Hisham’s memoir-reportage Brothers of the Gun, with art by Molly Crabapple, came out May 15. It details life under the Islamic State in Raqqa and covers, from a quite different point of view, some of the same ground as DunyaMikhail’s The Beekeper, which we discussed in Episode 8.
Hanan al-Shaykh’s The Occasional Virgin, trans. Catherine Cobham, comes out June 15.
Stella Gaitano’s Withered Flowers, trans. Anthony Calderbank, is available in bookshops in Juba, South Sudan. We’ll also see if we can convince them to make it more widely available.