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Beer in the Snooker Club

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,857 ratings  ·  440 reviews
This reissue of the late Waguih Ghali's only novel makes us mourn his loss all the more keenly. A plainspoken writer of consummate wryness, grace, and humor, the Egyptian author chronicles the lives of a polyglot Cairene upper crust, shortly after the fall of King Farouk, who are thoroughly unprepared to change their neo-feudal ways. This is the best book to date about pos ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published November 2nd 1999 by New Amsterdam Books (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Goodreads and Vintage for ARC.

In 220 pages, Waguih Ghali manages to tackle nearly every important idea and struggle of his time.

On the surface, this is a coming of age novel and a story about the unrequited love between a Coptic Egyptian of communist beliefs and a Jewish woman living in Egypt. If that alone is not fascinating, I don't know what is. Time's have changed so drastically, these characters seem unfathomable now. While I’m not sure how much of this, if any, is autobiographi
'If someone has read an enormous amount of literature, and has a thorough knowledge of contemporary history, from the beginning of this century to the present day, and he has an imagination, and he is intelligent, and he is just, and he is kind, and he cares about other people of all races, and he has enough time to think, and he is honest and sincere, there are two things can happen to him; he can join the Communist Party and then leave it, wallowing in its shortcomings, or he can become mad
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Having an inoculation in mid-twentieth-century MENA (Middle East and North African) politics before spying through Waguih Ghali's novel Beer in the Snooker Club helped me in already having an understanding of what this author was saying without having to do extraneous research, though in this novel it is best to know specifically about the Egyptian turmoil between the rule of Nasser and Sadat, with more of a focus on Nasser, for that political background provides the setting in which the events ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm depressed. And that ending is not fooling me. And this has stirred up so many questions about where I want to live, where I belong, what I want to do, what I believe in. And I have none of the answers to these questions. None. Not even the slightest clue. And I feel like crying. And I hate you Waguih, that ending is a lie. You should've written the end of it. Up to the day you left.. ...more
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The way Ghali touched the topic of identity, is like no other I've read before. It is indeed on top of my favorite novels of all times. ...more
If you're looking for an unusual setting (Egypt -- with a brief stint in England) and an unusual time period (the unremarkable 50s -- unremarkable only when compared to the tumultuous 40s), Beer in the Snooker Club may be worth a look. Waguih Ghali was an upper-class Egyptian educated in England. The book's hero, Ram Bey, closely resembles the author, in that he is interested in England, Egyptian politics, gambling, drinking, girls, and life.

For some reason, the back of the book insists that Ram
Zeinab Gamal
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first, during the first and second part, I wanted to write one long review. I don't know how to put it right. It's not like I was enthusiastic at the start, there was nothing to be enthusiastic about, but something was fading, slowly. Or rather, was being understood.

Instead, I will write you a review on Waguih Ghali. Or what they seem to know about this man. If you google his name in English, you will find that they talk of facts, however, if you google his name in Arabic, his Wikipedia woul
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best novels I have read\yet to read in my life.

Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before anything in the Middle East there was the Egyptian dream. Country clubs where the rich played crochet, lavish receptions and parties, French-speaking mothers and young men and women rolling through the nights in foreign-tongues bursting with intense political thought. This is a country so adamant about its culture and education, its expensive people and misrepresented 'fellaheen.' The theme of this book surrounds various elements of young Egyptian life that intersects with European influe ...more
Melissa Coyle
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. The young man, Ram, lives off of his rich relatives and likes his frivolous life, reading, drinking, gambling, and making love. His life turns for a while when he decides to add some meaning to it, but comes back to his senses to live his superficial life.

This book takes place in Egypt with a stay in London and takes a look at life among the rich Egyptians. What I liked most about this book was the honesty of the young man and his view
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, library_books
My library had this one as an ebook, so thought I'd check it out to expand my world literature reading. References to the Suez conflict made the book seem rather dated, but otherwise no major faults. The portrayal of upper class Egyptian society reminded me of the Indian families featured in Rohinton Mistry's stories set in India. Interestingly, the story focuses on Copts and Jews, outsiders in their own land, but as much by choice (refusal to assimilate) than by prejudice. Expect an end-of-era ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
i didn't want to finish the book. i stalled in the last twenty pages for a week. yet i don't know how i feel about the book. in one way, it made conscious of being an Egyptian who speaks English all the time. even though i'm criticized for it, all the time, i was never as conscious or ashamed (i guess shame is a pretty strong word) of it as i am now after reading this book.
i guess the only difference between me and these bourgeoisie Egyptians is that i'm not aristocrate, my grandparents are fel
Amany Selim
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is something indescribable about this novel, something that kept me constantly and unknowingly intrigued and captivated. Perhaps it is its dialogue which unlike most of novels that I read so far, made the main element here. What I liked the most was Ram's conversations with Edna. They revealed many of his complexities and inconsistencies. He was seemingly communist, yet still led this life of luxury, consumerism, and drunkenness that characterized his upper class. He detested his mother's ...more
Tibetan Mastiff
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book three times and am currently reading it for the fourth time. It's funny because whenever I've reread books, I found that I liked them less. Not so with BitSC. This book is an emotional roller coaster: sad and hilarious, artful and frank, light and profound—all at the same time. It's an understatement to say that this book is about Egypt (although it is), because you will see yourself on its pages no matter where you're from. "Beer in the Snooker Club" is honest writing, which ...more
Mona Mahfouz
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
The must read. One of the best novels I've ever read in my life.

Very handy to Egyptian expats living in Europe and the States as well. Simply an easy read of 220 pages that you can pass on to any Westerner to keep them busy and save yourself time and nerve hearing about the "Egypt" they know about.
Amr Elshafei
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wrote this for one of my classes. I think I still need to modify it a bit so it is a work in progress, and be careful because it has spoilers.

Insincere But Honest


Ram’s name is followed by many adjectives: Egyptian, Coptic, aristocratic, and also communist, poor, sometimes revolutionary young man who is leading a precarious existence at the center of those seemingly conflicting adjectives. Beer in the snooker club is a highly autobiographical novel, and like his main character, aut
"It is strange. A man gets to know a woman. For a long time they are one. They have mingled their thoughts, their bodies, their hopes, their odours, their lives. They are one. And then a while later they are strangers. They are not one anymore. Just as though it never happened, as though looking at oneself in the mirror and seeing a stranger instead of one's reflection.
I fetched a glass. What do people who do not drink do on such occasions? Face the facts perhaps. But facing a fact is one thing,
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to F by: Zaina

I read this book based on Zaina's fervent recommendation. I loved this book all on my own.

It's a book that makes you think without waving its intellectualism in your face. It recognizes that you need intellectualism and theories as part of growing up, and developing your own political identity... but that academia and the academese language used by an intellectual class to separate itself from the masses (or the fellaheen) is superfluous, overdone, dumb, unnecessary.

Waguih Ghali's Beer in the
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

what is the point of this book really? There were these glimpses of history (which I really liked); I wish there were more of it.

Rami, the main charterer, was written in a way that made me hate him and judge him for his irresponsible behavior and selfish choices. Rami was really smart but he used it for manipulating people's feelings. I was thinking about when your mind (way of thinking) turns against you and Rami is a good example for that. I loved Edna.

The style of writing is good and sm
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This compelling novel gives a picture of 1950's Cairo that gives a background for understanding the current situation in Egypt. That is only one reason to read it though. Highly readable because of the dialogue and great characters who seem to be a combination of idle rich kids and the lost generation. Those who are educated in England are rudderless when back in Egypt. Ghali's writing has been compared to Camus, Salinger and Walker Percy. It is clearly a book that stands on its own. (Hard to fi ...more
Wendy Brafman
Oct 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: egypt, fiction
Mr. Ghali seesms to be the Egyptian Hemmingway. I don't know whether or not he intended this, but I enjoyed his terse writing style. I also found it fascinating to learn that Egypt had its own "lost generation." Some of the depictions of Cairo and its society and undoubtedly still true today, such as Gezeira Club, of which I am a member. ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
Good Reads giveaway. Thank you.
Set in the 1950's, Egypt as a location and yet I learned nothing about either. The main character is a lazy, self absorbed human who leeches off everyone else. I couldn't wait to finish and move on to a more interesting book.
Brianna Beesley
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really well written. Ghali captured the day to day life occuring alongside with political turmoil in a beautiful way. I do wish that I wouldn't have read the forward before though as although it was really insightful it sort of spoiled the ending of the book. ...more
Zainab Magdy
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a book this beautiful about Egypt. I am obsessed with Ghali and Ram and Edna and Font. I think its brilliant; every Egyptian who can read should read this book. ...more
Zak Zak
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
one of those books which are talking about your-fucking-self, with every single detail, fuck all the world, am that poor Ram.

P.S : don't read it's translation, it's fucked up in Arabic
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Incredible read. Vibrant and descriptive and fun and complex.
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I knew about it for so long and only got to read it now. ...more
Iskandar Ahmad Abdalla
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece of a forgotten Egyptian "exile literature". ...more
Kobe Bryant
Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Crazy to think that being rich is pretty great no matter who you are
Mish Middelmann
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the 1950s and 60s, against a backdrop of one of Egypt's great hopeful revolutions. Looks balefully clearly at the patterns and structures of privilege in the Egyptian elite and their dreams to be as super-privileged as their colonisers.

Yet the story is so much about young people everywhere, with their frustrating and endearing passion, quick back-and-forth between blind spots and crystal clarity, and the apparent casualness of falling in and out of affairs, with all the deeper energies th
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Not much is known about Waguih Ghali. Ghali was born and raised in Cairo. His exact birth date is not known, but it is guessed he was born in the 1930’s to a upper class Coptic family in Egypt. Ghali’s family spoke English and French more than Arabic something he mirrors in his character Ram. When he was young, Ghali’s father passed away leaving Waguih behind as the poor relation to his mother’s r ...more

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