Saturday Summer Re-Runs: Egyptian Novelist Mansoura Ezz Eldin, Carrying the Mantle of Edgar Allan Poe

No one, she believes, has the right to impose their view on others. When asked about the story “Gothic Night,” Ez Eldin said that the theme of the story falls in a nightmare – an ideal uncanny context – where a giant monster wearing a cloak appears, rushing through the streets. She avoided despair by totally losing herself in her work and distancing herself from the mainstream. I immediately started to write a story and sent it right to Ibdaa magazine before my enthusiasm faded. Emerald Mountain is dear too, as it overlaps with the Thousand and One Nights. Thus, happily, she reads a lot of books within the confines of her job.  

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Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrPinterestPocketLike this:Like Loading…‹ Friday Finds: Miral al-Tahawy’s ‘Writing the Body and the Rhetoric of Protest in Arab Women’s Literature’Categories: #WITMonth, theater I wrote it with amateur boldness and freedom, careless of reception and reader reaction. In 2013, the story was published in Arabic in the collection Path to Madness. I hadn’t seen any discrimination or male prejudice, perhaps because of that. She fought fiercely and exerted hard efforts to transcend and succeed. I think both should be always evolving as they form the foundation of creativity. It was really hard, and I was totally cut off and estranged. He published his first book Heirs of Tolstoy on Kosnitsky Bridge in 2015, where he drew a portrait of the contemporary literary scene in Russia in Arabic. Which of your books do you love the most? He studied English language and literature at Ain Shams University and Russian language and literature at Ruden University in Moscow (Patrice Lumumba). For instance, her sisters are veiled, but this is something they decide. The only way towards that end was to enroll in a school in Cairo. She learned from great artists like Naguib Mahfouz and Mohieddin Ellabad. In the same year, she won the award of the best Arabic novel from the Sharjah International Book Fair for her novel Emerald Mountain. What types of books do you read? To the secure domestic milieu is introduced something that arouses fear, and thus the familiar becomes unfamiliar by the appearance of something alien. A journalist and novelist, she contributes ‘Gothic Night’, a tale that’s almost a prose poem, told in the very Gothic convention of deliberate fragmentation, which completely belies its apparently self-explanatory title. She writes a book review weekly, where she selects books she loves and recommends them for reading. What were the books of your childhood? As an intern, I worked in more than one newspaper, through short internships organized by the school. My writings owe much to my personal dreams and nightmares, too. It is frightening everywhere. In her review of The Uncanny Reader, Rebecca Nesvet wrote: “This reader’s favorite discoveries are by the postmodern Egyptian writer Mansoura Ez Eldin. The winning translator was Wiam El-Tamami, whose efforts were published in Granta. While still a student, in 1992, he started his career as a translator. Women’s suffering was a focal point in my novel Beyond Paradise.”
In striving to change the status quo for women, Mansoura looks for a total revisiting of established stereotypes. There are two locales in the story. She is also against the pressure faced by those who don’t wear it. Who are your favorite authors? It is again an issue of personal freedom. They were proud of me. Her debut novel Maryam’s Maze was translated into English by AUC press and released in 2007. Writing that novel, I felt as though I were undergoing a cultural and learning transformation: wonderful discovery! As if the writing profession were made only for someone else. It was a very rewarding time as she did a lot of reading and writing. It rises to mythopoesis, and makes this reader want very much to read Ez Eldin’s award-winning novels, not all of which have yet been translated into English.”
This was not Ezz Eldin’s first acclaim. We re-run it as part of Women in Translation Month (#WiTMonth):
By Ahmed Salah Eldein

Ahmed Salah Eldein talks with Mansoura Ezz Eldin. Reading Mansoura Ez Eldin’s story “Gothic Night,” I immediately remembered the uncanny in Edgar Allan Poe, particularly “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Black Cat.”   As in other of Poe’s stories, terror is created within an ordinary context. It was just a far, far off and even fantastic probability. In these two cities, horrible things happen: in the first, a giant blind monster turn people blind, as he is, and in the second city, the sea devours people with its frequent storms. After graduating from the Faculty of Mass Communications in 1988, she pursued her career in journalism and today holds the position of book section head and assistant chief editor at the Egyptian literary journal Akhbar Al-Adab. I believe that a writer has to view himself as “Alice” and the world around as a “Wonderland”; to maintain their curiosity and passion. Ahmed writes in both Arabic and English   and publishes regularly in a variety of   magazines. The first time I heard the word uncanny dates back to 1992, when I had a course in short stories. The strangest aspect of the patriarchal system, she said, is women’s total identification with it. What is on the list of your beloved books? She took off the veil. MEE: I used to read fairy stories, detective novels, and the [inexpensive paperback] Egyptian “pocket novels.”
When did the writer within you come to existence? Reality is harder than it seems for women, especially when they are weak and powerless. MEE: In my novels, I mingle reality and fantasy; this together with uncanny short stories. Mansoura tells her own story
Mansoura Ezz Eldin: At the age of 18, I left my tiny Delta village and headed to Cairo to pursue my studies. Sometimes, flash sightings and glimpses are valuable sources of inspiration. However, that feeling died away gradually, as I got acquainted with the place and the people, especially when my first stories started to appear in magazines and newspapers. She says that her job duties devour a great deal of time. The story was first introduced in a Lebanese newspaper in 2011 and was selected by Harvill Secker and Banipal for a translation competition. Her journey from a tiny village to the Egyptian literary elite was not easy. About her journey from innocence to experience, Mansoura said: “I was coddled for my excellence at school. Nowhere is safe. In an essay-interview that ran last year, writer-translator Ahmed Salah Eldein reflected on the art of   Mansoura Ez Eldin and discussed her art and views on life and writing. She was, at the time, the youngest writer to reach the shortlist and the first Egyptian woman writer. She added that her best time ever was the period between 2011 and 2014, when she had unpaid leave. Human lives can end abruptly while we are helpless and powerless. Ezz Eldin’s breakthrough
The young Mansoura Ezz Eldin had a dream. People vanish the moment he points his finger at them. “Gothic Night” started as a nightmare, and my next novel Shadowgraphs originated in a dream. MEE: I read philosophy and poetry. It was published in the following issue with handsome praise by the editor, the writer Abdallah Khairat, who predicted that I would be a renowned writer in the future. MEE: My choice apples are Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Franz Kafka, Edgar Allen Poe, Bruno Schulz, Carlos Fuentes, and Roberto Bolaño. Her own experience with the veil was very personal and done of free will. I had to choose one of three options: mass communications, translation, or economics and political science. In 2013, her collection The Path to Madness was published and, the following year, it won the Cairo International Book Fair award for the best Egyptian short-story collection. MEE: I love Maryam’s Maze. She firmly believes that it is time to radically change the naive assumption that not wearing veils by women is a sin. “However, when my mother died, I started to look at things differently. Otherwise, she exerts a great effort to cope with responsibilities and even make use of them to the best advantage of her writing. The only situation where I faced some resentment was when I decided to move to Cairo and live by myself. MEE: Among my favorite books are the Thousand and One Nights, Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Dostoevsky’s books, Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, The Tin Drum by Günter Grass, Aura by Carlos Fuentes. In which genres do you write? Also read:   Mansoura Ezz Eldin’s “Gothic Night” in award-winning translation by Wiam El-Tamami. Alone in Cairo, I moved from campus to expatriate houses and private apartments. Although postmodernist, the Egyptian writer Mansoura Ez Eldin also continues the legacy of Allan Poe. What preoccupied me foremost was the fun of writing and aesthetic issues. Ahmed Salah Eldein   (@Saladeino) is an Egyptian writer and translator born in Cairo on the 21st   of November, 1973. MEE: It was a late realization, actually. My choice was the first, as journalism was closer to my passion to write. We studied different samples of uncanny stories, those both very familiar and at the same time weird and frightening. Women should stand out from the crowd to evade the destiny of others who are buried alive symbolically. In 2010, her novel Beyond Paradise made its way to the prestigious International Prize for Arabic Fiction shortlist. Every step was meaningful, even moments of failure, as they gave her hard lessons. They focused on their work, awaiting no rewards. Yes, I was   a bookworm since I was just a kid, but the idea of being a writer never came to my mind. I was supposed to join the School of Engineering at Tanta University, but I changed my mind and decided to make my move to Cairo, to be close to the Cairene literary scene. However, I then focus on minute details and characters of people I meet. “Actually, I started to feel myself a woman in 2004 when my mother died quickly, in agony from cancer.”
A passion for storytelling and the call of duty
As early as 21, she threw herself into storytelling, and her stories began to make their way to Egyptian literary media. The American writer Marjorie Sandor further included the story in The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows, side by side with Kafka, Chekhov, and the aforementioned Poe. “They represent it and enforce its rules on fellow women old or young,” Ezz Eldin said. It’s also a fable with more than one interpretation. I love fantasy and fiction novels where writers tend to experiment. What inspires you? The idea goes to the heart of the very real world. His translation of Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s Chernobyl Prayer   (2016) gained instant success and became a bestseller. However, “Gothic Night” is one of my beloved short stories, where the protagonist searches for night. Then at the age of 18, reading a short story in an Arabic magazine issued in London, I told myself that I could write a better story than this one. MEE: Dreams are a core component.