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Great African Reads: Books > Egyptian authors

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message 1: by نشوى (new)

نشوى (engnashwa) | 10 comments I'll talk about great Egyptian authors who effect on me & I think effect on a lot of people
The first & great Egyptian authors is Tawfiq Al-Hakim
I don't write his biography you can go to the Wikipedia & know his biography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawfiq_e...

I'll tell you my view & my opinion of his plays, articles & stories
I think he made a great transition in our literature
He had simple & attractive style in his writing; he focused on the ideas of his book & what he wants to introduce to us
When you read his books, he makes you thinking & when you finish his books, you will have a lot of questions & ideas you gain from the book
He wrote about everything that Egyptians care for
When you read his books you will realize the huge of his knowledge, he had good scientific culture, and he understood the Einstein theories & he translate this to action by writing plays such as "journey to tomorrow" http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/70...
And he have special quote I love it
"The history records the events but the novel records the interaction of people with this event"
He wrote a great novel about 1919 revolution it's called "Return of the spirit"
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/80...
It's very fantastic novel &I recommend it for reading
He expresses the feeling of Egyptian before & during this revolution & he analysis the Egyptians behavior &culture in this novel &a lot of books like:
"Maze of justice" http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18...
He is also Influenced by Islamic history & Islamic culture in some of his plays such as " the confused sultan "
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46...
it talks about the conflict between the justice & the powerful it toke from real event in Islamic history I recommend it also for reading
he wrote a lot of articles which discussed the Egyptian problems & issues
I love him & his books and I think he's one of the greatest Egyptian writers


message 2: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Nashwa, thank you for your thoughts and suggestions for Egyptian authors and books. This is great and I think lots of members will add more books to their ever growing book piles now... :)


message 3: by نشوى (new)

نشوى (engnashwa) | 10 comments Muphyn wrote: "Nashwa, thank you for your thoughts and suggestions for Egyptian authors and books. This is great and I think lots of members will add more books to their ever growing book piles now... :)"

thank you for your sweet words just i want to be useful about you tour in EGYPT


message 4: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments I went looking for the book group reads in the library stacks and found "Distant View Of a Minaret" which I am also reading.


message 5: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I've wanted to read that...how are you liking it?


message 6: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments Posting a comment here just to receive notifications of new updates of this great discussion.. Thank you :D


message 7: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Good Idea Nashwa :)

Andrea wrote: "I went looking for the book group reads in the library stacks and found "Distant View Of a Minaret" which I am also reading."

first time to hear about her, from Wikipedia she is not very know her in spite of having a lot of her books translated to many languages , you know I only found one Arabic book for her here .
I will do more research.


message 8: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Wow, that is really interesting. Her book got a lot of attention in the US. I wonder how often that happens--an author is well known outside of her/his own country but not at home?


message 9: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments I do not know how often , but as I told before (the three taboos: religion , sex & politics) are usually the reason , in the few lines I read about her , she discussed (homosexuality among women) so this can explain some how , but I need to check more ..
Really I do not know how to describe the rules - I will try later - but if any of you read (The Yacoubian Building) , he will notice wide range of freedom.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12...

A novel like (in the eye of the sun) was banned from translation into Arabic (but it may will be) , it is widely available in English here.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10...


message 10: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 18, 2010 03:23AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments In my opinion to pick a book about a country for the first time , do not pick a one that has a controversial case or only popular abroad , you can get very much a fake image , some authors writes about their countries in a way we call (the west wants to see us this way), this is not an accusation to the west , but the truth is that differences can not easley be accepted , the best way to understand each other , it is not to know about the problems other have , but by examining the roots ..the culture, every coin has two faces .


message 11: by نشوى (new)

نشوى (engnashwa) | 10 comments Nile daughter wrote: "I do not know how often , but as I told before (the three taboos: religion , sex & politics) are usually the reason , in the few lines I read about her , she discussed (homosexuality among women) s..."

Can u tell me why (in the eye of sun) was banned from translation in to Arabic ?


message 12: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Nile daughter wrote: "In my opinion to pick a book about a country for the first time , do not pick a one that have controversial case or only popular abroad , you can get very much a fake image , some authors writes a..."

This is an excellent point you make, Nile Daughter, and I think it'd do well if we read more than one book from each country - and quite often that does happen too.

I think our Tour d'Afrique is really just the start of a journey and if the selected book entices you to read more and find out more about said country, then that's great. And I think you'd soon get a much better picture of what may or may not be representative of the country if you just continue digging, exploring and discussing.

I must say that even all our discussions about Egypt and Egyptian authors/books have been really "educational" for me. Honestly, I didn't know much about Egypt other than some very basic stuff, so it's been really great for me (even if the chosen book wasn't all that representative :) but it's led into some other fascinating discussions, incl. why or why El Sadaawi may not be the best choice).


message 13: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 18, 2010 04:35AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments So I will introduce (Ahdaf Souif) :

First I want to note that even Ahdaf lives in England & writes in English , but she can express Egypt very well , her novel (the map of love) talks about Egypt in details in 100 years , covers a lot of critical issues & with very good comparison between the past & the present , any one who would read it will gain a lot of info about Egypt , it is a enjoyable read but huge (500) pages .

To know Ahdaf better I recommend reading this link:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/...
**********

Nashwa :
( in the eye of the sun ) was banned (I believe not any more , I read el shourok may take the step ) because It is too controversial , its frankness about sex and adultery, especially with a westerner.
This Arabic review is excellent :
http://yasser-best.blogspot.com/2007/...
***********

Muphyn:
Thank you so much for your comment , I am glad we can help :)

For Nawal el seedawy , I got the novel now , it is not big , I will try to read it , I see you had a hot discussion (according to the amount of posts) , if I have a chance I may join you .

For (no one sleeps in Alexandria) , It was already on my reading list , when I get the book , I think I will be delighted to contribute in a discussion :)


message 14: by نشوى (new)

نشوى (engnashwa) | 10 comments I didn't read "the map of love" to Ahdaf souif but I read to her a collection of short stories its name is "زينة الحياة " I don't know the correct translation
I didn't like it because she didn't express the Egyptian like one of Egyptians she looks to Egypt like one of tourist and i felt she is impressed by western culture and very anger from our culture
she didn't deepen in our culture and try to get Muslim's philosophy
and I thin their is right for their anger from
(in the eye of sun) I read the Arabic review and there is completely right
you know the situation of Muslims toward this type of writing


message 15: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 18, 2010 06:27AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Nashwa:
You will not have the same feelings about Ahdaf if you read (The map of love ),She is proud of Egypt as much as her respect to the west , For the novel & Ahdaf in general ,I think you will be interested in reading this :
http://www.shorouknews.com/ContentDat...

For (زينة الحياة) , I read a similar collection in English (I think of you) , it did not attract me much as her both novels (it is weaker), but I think because both are selective stories from :

Aisha (her first book)
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10...

Sandpiper
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/67...

So the line that was connecting the stories was lost , in general they are both not popular as her two novels .

For (The eye of the sun)
I read it even , true.. it is a difficult read , but it is a very strong novel ,I liked it but from a very different point from the (the map of love) , the point you said is the main debate ,I think people abroad can not understand the difference between us & them in receiving a certain writing ,It is not a religion authority as much as it is the cultural nature of our community , I just do not know how to express this in the right words .


message 16: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
When i read In the Eye of the Sun and Map of Love i got the sense that Soueif was exploring her own existence as someone caught between two cultures, rather than a commentary on Egyptian culture. i think it's also helpful to remember Soueif's family background. If i remember correctly, her family was quite wealthy and highly educated. they also came from a time when speaking, reading, writing Arabic was not valued. So Soueif learned to read in English first. right from the beginning she was exposed to European culture and ideas. I really admire her and her writing. but i have not read her short stories.


message 17: by نشوى (new)

نشوى (engnashwa) | 10 comments I'll try to read "the map of love" but I still on my opinion about "Thy eye of sun" in spite of I didn't read it but I can't read it because it's Contrary to my religious & culture view


message 18: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 18, 2010 11:34AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Marieke wrote: "When i read In the Eye of the Sun and Map of Love i got the sense that Soueif was exploring her own existence as someone caught between two cultures, rather than a commentary on Egyptian culture. i..."

Exactly she is a one that has the east & the west inside her!
she can write , read & speak Arabic fluently , but not writing literature , her generation is much better than ours , Arabic language has more appreciation than today (unfortunately) , one of the most popular female writers –from her generation- is Radwa Ashour , I think I will leave her introductions to someone else , Adaf’s situation was special because she was living between Egypt & England since she was 5 years old . a lot of her problems in fitting in was discussed in (Aisha) .I think you may find the link I posted above about her from the Guardian interesting .
she does not seem a commenter on the Egyptian culture ? I think through her experience we saw the comparison between the two cultures ?
In general , she is a political commenter , I am holding now in my hands her book (Mezzaterra) , I wish to be able to read it soon .
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10...


message 19: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 18, 2010 11:37AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Nashwa wrote: "I'll try to read "the map of love" but I still on my opinion about "Thy eye of sun" in spite of I didn't read it but I can't read it because it's Contrary to my religious & culture view"

I am a Muslim and I am not discussing the halal & the haram by reading such books , also I am not asking you to read (in the eye of the sun) , I did not even recommend here - it is not right to begin with it to read about Egypt - , I just putted it as an example of the difference s in accepting books , but I want to tell you about something I believe in(for myself) , reading or liking a book does not mean approving the behaviors in it or all the ideas Included , I judge the book as whole And for what I learnt from it, Besides there are books I would have never read them 10 years ago , I may will be able to today .

For example , I attend to read (lolitta) but this does not mean that I approve pedophilia (I am not recommending this either).


message 20: by Ingy (last edited Sep 18, 2010 11:34AM) (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments Hi guys..
I never read "in the eye of the sun", but from the review that Nile daughter put it's link above, I can say it's a novel pretty much like "Season of Migration to the North"..
The writer of this novel is a Sudanese "Tayeb Salih", and he talks in this novel about the very mixed feeling of a Sudanese towards the western society as he goes to England to study, knowing that this is the country that occupied his lands for years, and eventually how he tries to "conquer" this country in his very own way, by "conquering" its women! By making them fall madly in love with him using their romantic image of the "mysterious east!!", then leaving them behind.
This is only one of the many "views" of this novel.. it's a very rich novel indeed, it can give so various meanings, I just found this particular one to be very interesting to mention :D

This novel is a very good read by the way, I will recommend it to the group once we reach the Sudan in our tour :D

Nile daughter I see you are very fond of "Map of Love".. So we might as well recommend it to our Egyptian tour..

I'll go prepare something on another Egyptian author..
Cheers :D


message 21: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 19, 2010 05:18AM) (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Ng:
I am actually fond of Ahdaf Souif herself :o but if the group decided to read (the map of love) , I will read it again :o

in general :
I am one of Afdaf fans , but To be honest I only read for few Arabic female writers like Radwa Ashour& Hanan al-Shaykh , but recently I bought two novels I am very interested in(Egyptian) :Sahar Elmougy ‘s (Noon)
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babyl...
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/62...

and , Miral al-tahawy’s(Brooklyn heights)
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/85...

N.B
I did not read any of them so I'm not recommending any , just pushing Egyptian female writers names to the front , Nawal Sedawy is from a different generation .

****
(Season of immigration north )

When we reach Sudan I will defiantly vote for it! I bought with the previous novels I mentioned , I remember I read it is one of the greatest 100 books in the world .


message 22: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Marieke wrote: "When i read In the Eye of the Sun and Map of Love i got the sense that Soueif was exploring her own existence as someone caught between two cultures, rather than a commentary on Egyptian culture. i..."

I forgot to say that I am glad that you liked the novels , I wanted to add a comment about the Arabic language appreciation , I just answered quickly because I feel sorry for the Arabic language today:( I was not criticizing at all , I admire your knowledge ;)
in case you are aware of these info or not , I will provide them :
Westernization became a domain factor in Egypt’s life since the middle of the 19th century , with Ismael pasha , any one who visits Khedive (down town) can watch this practically without reading history .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isma'...
the process gain more power by the British colonization & the huge influence of foreign Ingathering ,by the time it was natural to see the elite speaking , dressing or behaving like the westerners- French was the common used language not English ,but from anther side there was the rising of (Arab nationalism ) term that became stronger after Gamal Abdel naser .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_nat...


message 23: by Petra mostly on hiatus in hospital in Mexico (last edited Sep 20, 2010 12:42PM) (new)

Petra mostly on hiatus in hospital in Mexico (petra-x) My Egyptian Jewish friends families all spoke French as well as Arabic growing up. Of course they left Egypt a long time ago, so for people in their demographic it might have changed. But my Muslim Egyptian friends all grew up learning English not French and all speak it fluently (otherwise we wouldn't be friends as my Arabic is limited, like in so many languages I 'know' to food items and curse words).


message 24: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments Petra X wrote: "like in so many languages I 'know' to food items and curse words"
LOL!

Until the 2nd world war, French was the language of the elite.. Everybody spoke French or wanted to, not only in Egypt but in Europe too..


message 25: by Muphyn (last edited Sep 23, 2010 01:54AM) (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Nile daughter wrote: "...French was the common used language not English ,but from anther side there was the rising of (Arab nationalism ) term that became stronger after Gamal Abdel naser..."

Nile Daughter, thanks for mentioning French here - that's what I had in my head (that French was used in education, government, and other domains of the elite at some time) but I thought I must have gotten things confused... glad i hadn't totally mixed things up in my head. :)

This thread is really fascinating as I know so little about Egypt and I really appreciate your collective efforts of suggesting or simply mentioning Egyptian authors (whether you "recommend" them as such or not).


message 26: by Cindy (last edited Sep 26, 2010 11:14AM) (new)

Cindy (newtomato) | 10 comments Hey guys,

Has anyone read an Egyptian author named Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq? His biggest (only?*) book is supposedly a bestseller in Arabic, Utopia. I'm not sure if it's been translated into French, but the English translation is coming out in November. Best I can figure, it will only be sold in the UK (& territories?). It's been a hard one to find. Thank goodness for BookDepository.com!

Anyway, if anyone has heard of the book or the author or has even read the original version, I'd love any input! Somehow I've become fascinated with this book, and I don't even know much about it...

* ETA: Amazon.co.uk says he's written over 200 books!


message 27: by Ingy (last edited Sep 26, 2010 11:43AM) (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments Cindy wrote: "Hey guys,

Has anyone read an Egyptian author named Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq? His biggest (only?*) book is supposedly a bestseller in Arabic, Utopia. I'm not sure if it'..."


OH! I love this guys! He's one of my heros, I thinks he's every Egyptian's hero from my generation!
Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq is best known for his series of horror/thriller short novels called ما وراء الطبيعة, I guess it can be translated to "Supernatural", it's on of the first attempts to write horror/ thriller that is 100% Egyptian (as in events are located in Egypt based on Egyptian legends and with Egyptian characters, but some adventures r not of course, he tries to be as divers as he can).
Tawfiq has a fascinating sarcastic style that made as all love him.. His novel series started in 1992 (only 2 issues per year) but he intends to put an end to it soon..
During the past few years he has been regularly writing in some well- known newspapers, his opinion in political/ social issues, despite that he's not a sociologist or a political science guy, are highly estimated..
He wrote other novels, alone or in co-operation with other writers, also in horror/ thriller domain. He also has books that are sort of studies about horror and cinema, and the mixture of both..
He also has another 3 series: Fantasia (I guess the name is clear :) ), Safari (a medical thriller), and translated International novels, where he picks and translates from English to Arabic novels that had rarely or never been translated before. And apart from this series he did a hell of a job translating "Fight Club" into Arabic, introducing us to Chuck Palahniuk's world..
Funny thing is, the man is a doctor! And he still practices medicine!

His novel Utopia, is a fictional political thriller about how he imagines Egypt to be in the future.. And it's not a pretty future at all!
Some say it's the same idea as Wells's Time Machine.. It's close to it, but then again he did not copy the idea it's just the same concept of 2 separate societies, and that's all!
The novel is really good.. It's worth reading for sure.. Read it and then tell me if I'm being biased just because it's my country he's talking about :D

Did I forget anything? I don't think so..
Hope I helped.. :)


message 28: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments Btw, Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq is no just well known in Egypt, his work is also very popular all around the Arab world.. He has many fans everywhere..


message 29: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (newtomato) | 10 comments Oh, Ng, that is SO helpful! Thank you so very, very much!! I read that Utopia is his first novel ever translated into English - if true, it sounds like it is long overdue! As you can probably tell, I'm clueless about authors who write in Arabic, but I'm eager to rectify that. :) I've got my pre-order for Utopia in at BookDepository.

I sure hope they translate some of his horror/thrillers as well. Sounds really interesting, entertaining and educational as well!

Again, many times thank you!


message 30: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Cindy wrote Has anyone read an Egyptian author named Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq? His biggest (only?*) book is supposedly a bestseller in Arabic, Utopia.

oooo i want to read this book!

Ng, do you think his arabic is difficult? maybe i'll see if i can get one at work. it's my dream to read arabic novels but i'm afraid i still have a way to go before i can actually handle one. :(
but these sound terrific.


message 31: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (newtomato) | 10 comments I'm not 100% convinced the Utopia being released in November is in English. From the publisher's website, they list it as "Arabic edition," and they own the worldwide rights, except Egypt, for the book. So maybe this one is in Arabic, and the english one is to follow? I cancelled my pre-order and will do more research....


message 32: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Now I have to read my (utopia) copy fast , I am waaaaaaay behind :p

You know Ingy I never read any of his (metaphysics’ serials) , I stopped at Nabeel Farouk ages ago !:D

Marieke:
A friend of mine wanted to start reading in Arabic , she got simplified Arabic novels to start with , they are translated from popular international ones , so she knew what she is going to read , that helped her a lot .


message 33: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments This author's books were long underestimated, they were looked at as 2nd class literature, just because he writes horror novels, since this is a very unusual type of literature in our region and for a long time it was considered not to be literature at all!
I guess they never heard of Steven King!!
Another factor that contributed to the underestimation of this author, is actually a very stupid factor.. The book packaging.. Dimensions of the books of all of his 3 series were too small (these different series were printed under the label "Pocket Books") printed on cheap paper with poorly illustrated cover..
All of that contributed in letting many ppl think that this man writes for kids, or for youth, until they actually start to read what he writes, then there idea changes!

It seems that Utopia is not yet translated.
As for his series (which I loved more then this book) I don't think they will ever be translated.


message 34: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments My brother is creasy about him , he is younger than me (6) years , I did not consider him as 2nd class literature , but true I thought the serial is teenagers’ ones , I was creasy about (malaf almostakbal) one day :D


message 35: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments Nile daughter wrote: "My brother is creasy about him , he is younger than me (6) years , I did not consider him as 2nd class literature , but true I thought the serial is teenagers’ ones , I was creasy about (malaf alm..."

Oh we all were :D


message 36: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Nile Daughter said A friend of mine wanted to start reading in Arabic , she got simplified Arabic novels to start with , they are translated from popular international ones , so she knew what she is going to read , that helped her a lot .

yes...an acquaintance told me that he had read Harry Potter in arabic and it had helped him a lot...but i've never read Harry Potter in English so i don't know if it would help me in Arabic...do you recall anything your friend read? i have a couple of classics in arabic, maybe i should finally try them. i have روبنسون كروزو and الهندي الشجاع. that's Robinson Crusoe and The Last of the Mohicans (i think! lol)


message 37: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments It' s a very good idea, just take care while choosing the publishing house, make sure you choose one well known for there good translations or else you will suffer from it!


message 38: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
These two books are from Syria (rabie publishing house)...they seem very good....the writing is simple but I do have to look up some words. I feel confident about the grammar though... :)

can you recommend publishing houses? I know AUC does a great job translating Arabic into English bit do they also translate English into Arabic?


message 39: by Ingy (new)

Ingy (ngnoah) | 33 comments Not as far as I know. But Syrian publishing houses are usually very good.


message 40: by Niledaughter (last edited Sep 29, 2010 11:08PM) (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Marieke wrote: "Nile Daughter said A friend of mine wanted to start reading in Arabic , she got simplified Arabic novels to start with , they are translated from popular international ones , so she knew what she i..."

I agree with Ingy about the publishing houses ..

For my friend I believe she bought the novels from Cairo while she was here , I think they were particularly for Arabic learners , any way , I will ask her , BTW she is here with us in the forum ,actually there are two , I think you can exchange experiences with each other , they are a Mexican & a Romanian one , creasy about Arabic ..language , music & culture in general :D I can arrange your contacts if you like :)


message 41: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Nile Daughter said, I think they were particularly for Arabic learners , any way , I will ask her , BTW she is here with us in the forum ,actually there are two , I think you can exchange experiences with each other , they are a Mexican & a Romanian one , creasy about Arabic ..language , music & culture in general :D I can arrange your contacts if you like :)

yes, please! and my apologies for being absent from the discussions...i've had too much going on but i have been following along and will post some comments later this evening at the other threads... :D


message 42: by Niledaughter (new)

Niledaughter | 88 comments Marieke wrote: "yes, please! and my apologies for being absent from the discussions...i've had too much going on but i have been following along and will post some comments later this evening at the other threads... :D
..."


Never mind dear , I am not around much myself :) ok ..I will arrange that ;) ..


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