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Cairo Swan Song

by Mekkaoui Said

As he advises his American girl friend on filming Cairo street children, middle-aged Mustafa wonders what happened to his youthful idealistic belief in public democracy and private love. Not an easy read as the narrator dodges backwards and forwards chronologically, but I believe that anyone over 45 will find Mustafa's preoccupations and sense of irony very easy to relate to: despite his belief that westerners can never understand the east.

Extract

Schizophrenia struck my society before it struck me, Doctor, I'm just a symptom. Suddenly we went from the age of the miniskirt and hotpants to head-scarves and black tents, which have to lift up the front of their veils every time they bring a spoon of koshari or an ice cream bar to their lips. I have tried to analyze these phenomena, relying on what I've read in specialist books, or even with the help of a friend, but I've failed completely.
Translated by Adam Talib

Parallels

Friendly Fire by Alaa Al Aswary
Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
 

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