From the best-selling author of "The Map of Love," here is a bracing firsthand account of the Egyptian revolution--told with the narrative instincts of a novelist, the gritty insights of an activist, and the long perspective of a native Cairene.
Since January 25, 2011, when thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to demand the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime, Ahdaf Soueif--author, journalist, and lifelong progressive--has been among the revolutionaries who have shaken Egypt to its core. In this deeply personal work, Soueif summons her storytelling talents to trace the trajectory of her nation's ongoing transformation. She writes of the passion, confrontation, and sacrifice that she witnessed in the historic first eighteen days of uprising--the bravery of the youth who led the revolts and the jubilation in the streets at Mubarak's departure. Later, the cityscape was ablaze with political graffiti and street screenings, and with the journalistic and organizational efforts of activists--including Soueif and her family.
In the weeks and months after those crucial eighteen days, we watch as Egyptians fight to preserve and advance their revolution--even as the interim military government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, throws up obstacles at each step. She shows us the council delaying abdication of power, undermining efforts toward democracy, claiming ownership of the revolution while ignoring its martyrs. We see elections held and an Islamist voted into power. At each scene, Soueif gives us her view from the ground--brave, intelligent, startlingly immediate. Against this stormy backdrop, she interweaves memories of her own Cairo--the balcony of her aunt's flat, where, as a child, she would watch the open-air cinema; her first job, as an actor on a children's sitcom; her mother's family land outside the city, filled with fruit trees and palm groves, in sight of the pyramids. In so doing, she affirms the beauty and resilience of this ancient and remarkable city. The book ends with a postscript that considers Egypt's more recent turns: the shifts in government, the ongoing confrontations between citizen and state, and a nation's difficult but deeply inspiring path toward its great, human aims--bread, freedom, and social justice. In these pages, Soueif creates an illuminating snapshot of an event watched by the world--the outcome of which continues to be felt across the globe.
About the Author
Ahdaf Soueif is the author of two novels, In the Eye of the Sun and The Map of Love, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1999; a story collection, I Think of You; and an essay collection, Mezzaterra: Notes from the Common Ground. She lives in Cairo, where she was born.
Praise for Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed…
“Profound, enthralling. . . . Fiercely poetic. . . . Soueif paints a picture of a people who realized, suddenly and collectively, the scope of their own potential.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“There are many records of the Egyptian revolution, but Cairo takes us on a more intimate journey. . . . [Soueif] speaks of her own story but also speaks for thousands, perhaps even millions, of other Cairenes.” —The Guardian (London)
“Compelling. . . . [Soueif] possesses a revolutionary’s zeal but also an artist’s regret.” —Los Angeles Times
“Recounts with joy and anguish the revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime—the hope raised by a new generation demanding freedom.” —New York Post
“[Cairo] takes the reader to the front lines of the conflict in the streets with vignettes worthy of a novel. . . . Soueif’s ability to render grand events in human terms and put Egypt’s current conflict into historical and global context makes Cairo a book that demands attention.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Soueif is a political analyst and commentator of the best kind.” —London Review of Books
“Offers an invaluable window into the mind-set of a large proportion of the engaged Egyptian population. . . . A testimony to the dramatic cultural shift that has taken place in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world in public attitudes toward power.” —Bookforum
“Bursts of lyricism, poetry and love illuminate the factual account and political commentary, and it works beautifully.” —The Independent (London)
“Heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful. . . . An intimate portrait of an extraordinary city at an extraordinary moment in its history.” —Evening Standard (London)
“The author captures beautifully her anguish at Cairo’s degradation during the years of dictatorship and Mubarak’s calculated sowing of division among the people. . . . With the recent violent eruptions in the country, Soueif’s work as an eloquent witness is a work in progress.” —Publishers Weekly
“Soueif offers both an extraordinary eyewitness document and a sense of the historical import of the revolution. . . . A deeply personal, engaged tribute by the far-flung Egyptian novelist and journalist as she returned to witness the revolution in her hometown.” —Kirkus Reviews
“As an active participant and a keenly observant chronicler of the impassioned rebellion, [Soueif’s] firsthand account offers insight into the heady days of the original revolution and its tumultuous aftermath. . . . Interweaves affectionate and peaceful memories of Cairo, Egypt, and her family into the fiery narrative. As Egyptian citizens continue to live the revolution, she provides a uniquely personal perspective on both the events of 2011 and the ensuing years.” —Booklist