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The Queue

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  1,079 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
Set against the backdrop of a failed political uprising, The Queue is a chilling debut that evokes Orwellian dystopia, Kafkaesque surrealism, and a very real vision of life after the Arab Spring.

In a surreal, but familiar, vision of modern day Egypt, a centralized authority known as ‘the Gate’ has risen to power in the aftermath of the ‘Disgraceful Events,’ a failed popula
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published May 24th 2016 by Melville House (first published December 28th 2012)
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Umm.. so a chapter or so into the book, I began googling Basma Abdel Aziz to determine if she was still alive. Definitely, a residue of my being born and spending my childhood in a totalitarian country, for certainly a book like this would never have been published in the formerly communist Eastern block. Or, if somehow it had escaped the censors, I have no doubt its writer wouldn’t have escaped the gulag. Except perhaps, if such a book would have caught the eye of an English translator and had ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Basma Abdel Aziz is a force to be reckoned with, and I have to admit to being more interested in her author bio than the start of this book. But if she had not written the futility of the world she created (or reflected, really) it would not have been as effective. Everyone is in a queue, they think, to get the forms to prove they are good citizens. Only good citizens can work, rent properties, own land, and be considered for bullet removal (which is illegal.) There are tastes of 1984 and many o ...more
Nancy Oakes
Frankly, this is one hell of a good book.

[More at my reading journal if anyone's interested.

I can just picture someone somewhere reading the back-cover blurb of this book where it says "The Queue is a chilling debut that evokes Orwellian dystopia, Kafkaesque surrealism,..." and wondering why he/she should read it if it's done before. Well, it's certainly true that there are a lot of books that focus on people faced with the absurdities of a totalitarian government, but in this book, what strike
Viv JM
The Queue is an interesting new take on the dystopian genre, which manages to balance hyper-reality with a sense of surreal absurdity. It is set in an unnamed authoritarian state, where citizens are at the mercy of a central authority figure called The Gate. Bureaucracy is extreme – citizens need authorization for the slightest need (eye test, anyone?)– and in order to gain this, they must join the queue at The Gate. More and more people join the queue, but The Gate never seems to open, despite ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
In a non-specific Middle Eastern setting, life in a city is governed by 'the Gate', both an actual structure and a symbol of authoritarian rule. Citizens are instructed to queue outside it for permits and certificates for everything from job applications to medical treatment. The Gate, however, never opens – it's often rumoured that it's about to, but all that happens is that more new laws are imposed; the queue grows longer and starts to turn into a permanent fixture. All this takes place in th ...more
This novel is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern Country, although the author lives in Cairo and has written several works of non-fiction speaking out against oppression and torture in Egypt.

In this book, there is a totalitarian regime, symbolized by the mysterious Gate, to which all citizens must apply for permits for almost everything. The main story line features Yehya, a man who was shot during the so called Disgraceful Events, and has a bullet in his stomach. The book follows him and his frie
This is the story of how an authoritarian government works. History and reality are rewritten to tell fit the truth the government decides will work best to keep its citizens in line. Fear is used to control the masses. Surveillance in many forms is everywhere and is constant.

Tarek is a surgeon. As the book begins, he is reviewing the file of a patient he treated in the emergency room the night the "Disgraceful Events" began. The patient had been shot. After getting the x-rays and observing a b
جرعة مكثفة من البؤس.. منعتني النوم، وضاعفت اكتئابي..
يا رب هوّن!
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating dystopian novel. It takes place in an unnamed city in the middle east where there is a centralized authoritarian control known only as "The Gate" Citizens are required to obtain permission for just about anything from the gate. The problem is the gate never seems to open so people have to wait in the most ridiculous queue ever and they never really get anywhere. Our main character, Yehya, has an even bigger problem. He needs permission from the gate to have a bullet remove ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Queue is built on historical precedence set by Arab Springs. The foundation of the story lies in the changing climate in the middle east with its revolt against authorities, outing fundamentalism and greater exposure to social media. The globe watched more closely than ever when an entire nation protested against their government and changed history forever. This book is set during one such moment in history where the revolt against government fails, and fails for the worse. The building tha ...more
This was a challenging but in the end quite affecting novel. The author, an Egyptian journalist, is also a psychiatrist who treats victims of torture. Excellent credentials for writing a novel about the impact of government oppression.

The story opens in an unnamed Middle Eastern city with Dr Tarek Fahmy reviewing the file of his patient Yehya Gad el-Rab Saeed. Said patient had come to him for the removal of a bullet in his groin, received during an uprising that has come to be known as the Dis
شريف ثابت
مثقف محبط، صحفى ثائر، متطرف دينى، إمرأة مكافحة تنبش فى التراب بحثا عن الرزق، شخص مصاب برصاصة فى صدامات ثورية ويرفض النظام علاجه أو حتى الاعتراف بإصابته، شعب بالكامل اختزلت حياته وأحلامه فى طابور طويل طويل بلا نهاية، وسلطة غاشمة جاثمة تستبد بالجميع..

العمل الثانى الذى أقرأه لبسمة عبد العزيز بعد دراستها المهمة "إغواء السلطة المطلقة" إلى جانب مقالها الدورى فى الشروق، والرواية هنا تنتمى لنفس العالم الذى جاءت منه أعمال أدبية ك "1984" أورويل و"451 فهرنهايت" برادبورى وفى أدبنا العربى "أسفار الفراعين" لف
Ahmed Elsukkary
روايه معقولة و جيده تقع في عالم موازي لفانتازيا چورچ أورويل و أجواء يوسا المليئون بالاسقاطات علي الواقع ، يمكن سقف التوقعاتي هو اللي كان عالي اوي ، عشان كده شفتها مملة في بعض اجزائها و كان ممكن تكون مشوقه اكتر من كده ، عموما افضل جزء بها هو ربعها الأخير بغض النظر عن النهاية .


[ تحديث [ تم توقيع عقد تحويل الرواية لفيلم امريكي الإنتاج لو وقع تحت ايدي تفاصيل اكتر بكتبها عنا
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated, sci-fi
This was just an okay read for me. I don’t think it was the book- I think it was the mood I was in while reading it.

This is a dystopia about a world ruled by a mysterious gate that popped up out of nowhere one day and began issuing laws and decrees. At first people expected the Gate to be a good thing, but then the horror slowly dawns on them as the laws get stricter and stricter, forcing people to jump through numerous hoops to get anything done.

Mostly it follows a character named Yehya and his
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book today and I feel like I just got off a roller coaster. This is a dystopian novel, but it's also horror. The Gate is meant to keep people "in line" all the while you have people recording citizen's every move.

There's one specific passage that terrified me like no other book has done.

Although the first 100 pages were confusing, the second part of the book made up for it.

The people in this book are scared, but the scarier part is that they are adapting. They are living. Even
Ryan Ward
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially when I began reading this, it read like a number of other dystopian novels, with exposition and a bit of world building (although the novel is set in the present-day Middle East, so we're not talking a big fantasy world build). But then it just kept going. Day in and day out, describing the lives of people under an authoritarian regime who are waiting in line outside of a government office that never opens.

After the initial backdrop was placed, I began to get a bit bored. I realized I
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a pivotal scene in which one of the characters describes the nothingness in which she finds herself. In a few pages, we are led into a directionless void, no scent, no texture, no communication. I found it terrifying. Together with the 6 documents we are presented with throughout the book, I was made to feel the horror and the tension these characters faced in this world. And I had to ask the question of how people are able to communicate with one another under such a faceless, burdenso ...more
Nate D
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those trapped by hopeful expectation of reason and order
Recommended to Nate D by: the latest announcement from the gate
A contemporary dystopian present from a part of the world perhaps uniquely positioned to comment on such. Written by an Egyptian journalist, this is the story how ordinary people, just by attempting to persevere in any way they can, may become complicit in perpetuating the unacceptable and intolerable. Here, in an endless line formed in waiting for a government office to open, wherein one may get the paperwork to prove "True Citizenship" pr apply to have a bullet wound operated on. How relevant ...more
Khaled Ahmed
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
فانتازيا رااااائعة... لكن السؤال المخيف: لماذا معظم من يكتب عن المستقبل يكتب سوادا دون ان يكون هناك بصيص من الامل؟
Samaa Ahmed
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tense, dystopian, well done. I had to stop for a few days at one point; I couldn’t bear to read on to find out what had happened to one of the characters. Very nice job of portraying so many characters’ approaches to living in an authoritarian society pervaded by spies and lies. Very timely to watch the government try one spin after another to deny events that the character at the center carries a fatal reminder of. I would like to read more by this author.
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
“The Queue”, by Egyptian author Basma Abdel Aziz, tells the tale of a dystopian society where citizens are rigidly controlled by an invisible authoritarian government. In order to receive authorization for just about any task, men and women must line up for weeks on end in front of an administrative Gate.

One of the citizens anxiously in wait of an authorization is Yehya, a young man recently shot during a government rebellion. Yehya is slowly dying from the bullet lodged in his body, however, as
A good dystopia with a zoomed view and a varied cast.

It was an interesting read even if the story or the society weren't amazing or really new. Indeed, the narration was very focused, zooming only on several characters, making it difficult to completely grab what was happening at the society level. I enjoyed to discover piece by piece the dystopia this way, it kept me interested all along and I'd fun when something new was unveiled. The characters weren't a lot developed and I didn't become atta
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the darkest books I've ever read... And I mainly read dystopian fiction! It follows changes in an unnamed country as it becomes more and more authoritarian. It is told from the perspective of a group of people who are forced to live in a queue to get government documents necessary to run their lives... Anything from permits to get medical attention, or documents to show true citizenship. Everyone is under surveillance... And new orders come out regularly. I can't really say I enj ...more
I thought this to be quite unique, quite brilliant.
An uprising sees a strange unseen government in place. More and more rules are enacted which require the citizens to seek approval from "The Gate". The only problem is "The Gate" is never opened and the queue gets longer and longer. There are bizarre rules such as to get surgery to remove a bullet. This is a book full of Catch-22s, a reflection of tyranny gone wrong and how the masses seem to willingly obey even the most extreme laws.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Queue is an important novel. Basma Abdel Aziz deftly weaves a story about the psychological aspects of every day existence of people trying to navigate an oppressive and deceptive regime as it becomes (to some) increasingly clear that they are under 24-7 surveillance. Avoiding any truly gruesome scenes (save for one with a bag full of bloody bullets), but rather implying them in the terrified and slow disintegration of mental and physical health, Abdel Aziz achieves an eerie, haunting atmosp ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given where the ‘Arab Spring’ has ended up, reading Basma Abdel Aziz’s The Queue is a rather eerie and dispiriting experience. The dystopian novel is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern city, now entirely governed by a faceless authoritarian regime called The Gate, which has placed its citizens in a chokehold following what is euphemistically referred to as the ‘Disgraceful Events’, perpetuated by the ‘Riffraff’, who protested against the curtailing of their freedoms. The novel follows a broad rang ...more
the gift
this is actually somewhere between three and four and sometimes even two. 'the gate' is a great idea, the totalitarian absurdity well-displayed, but interesting actions of 'disgraceful events' are only alluded to, the theme of finding an x-ray that seems to have disappeared, of extracting a bullet always delayed by bureaucracy and fear, of surveillance of 'free' cell phones... sometimes too plausible, too current, too horrible, but the characters appear simple, interchangeable, and there is no g ...more
أول رواية ديستوبيا عربية أقرؤها، ويا لها من قراءة!!

الطابور والبوابة ونواتج "الأحداث المشينة"..

الطابور أصبح يمثل حياة الكثيرين الذين توقف أغلبهم عن ممارسة حياتهم العادية ليقفوا بالطابور الذي يؤدي ل "البوابة" التي تمثل السلطة وصاحبة القرار في كل الأمور الحياتية للشعب.
أغلبهم يقف بالطابور للحصول على "شهادة صلاحية المواطنة"، الشهادة التي تثبت أنه مواطن صالح يستحق العمل، يستحق العلاج، ... يستحق الحياة!! هذا الطابور الذي يمتد لكيلوميترات يقيم به قاطنوه ليل نهار بانتظار أن تفتح البوابة، بذلك الإيمان الع
مينا ساهر
قرأت الرواية ببطء شديد. ليست الرواية ممتعة و إن كانت الفكرة جميلة.
تنظر الرواية لمصر في الحكم الديني. تقدم بسمة صورتها و تصورها عن مصر الإخوانية. و اعتقد أنها اجتهدت كثيراً في بناء التصور السياسي و لكن غابت أوجه أخرى.

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Basma Abdel Aziz has a BA in medicine and surgery, an MS in neuropsychiatry, and a diploma in sociology. She works for the General Secretariat of Mental Health in Egypt's Ministry of Health and the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture.

Abdel-Aziz gained second place for her short stories in the 2008 Sawiris Cultural Award, and a 2008 award from the General Organisation for Cul
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“Yehya would never admit that he was just a single, powerless man in a society where rules and restrictions were stronger than everything else, stronger than the ruler himself, stronger” 0 likes
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