Bulaq 52: ‘Widows, Conmen, and Crimes’

Literary detective Mohamed Shoair is author of the acclaimed 2018 popular history   Children of the Alley: The Story of the Forbidden Novel,   which follows the story of Naguib Mahfouz’s most controversial novel. A   chapter of Shoair’s book appears online   in Samah Selim’s translation.
Show Notes:
Adel Kamel’s   long-forgotten, now-remembered   classic   Malim al-Akbar   recently appeared in English as   The Magnificent Conman of Cairo. A   special section on ArabLit   marked the launch.
Mahfouz talks briefly about the Harafish, his circle of literary friends, in   Naguib Mahfouz at Sidi Gaber: Reflections of a Nobel Laureate, 1994-2001,   from conversations with   Mohamed Salmawy.
Although he settled in Paris in 1945, he set all his wonderful novels — about criminals, layabouts and would-be revolutionaries — in Egypt or the middle east. Albert Cossery was a French writer of Levantine origin, born in Cairo.
The crime issue of   ArabLit Quarterly   is available now.
First, we talked our way through a book that tells the stories of women who rallied to ISIS; then a novel that focuses on a Franco-Moroccan family grappling with the end of colonialism; and last, a picaresque, satirical novel from 1940s Egypt that has been recently re-discovered.
It references a few other books, such as Dunya Mikhail’s    The Beekeeper of Sinjar   (which gathers the testimonies of Yazidi women enslaved by ISIS) and David Thomson’s   The Returned, about French jihadis. Ursula’s review of Guest House for Young Widows, a book about women who joined ISIS, appeared in the last issue of   The Point magazine.
Slimani’s   The Perfect Nanny   was an international best-seller; her new book is part of a planned historical trilogy set in Morocco. Ursula’s review of the Moroccan-French author Leila Slimani’s latest novel,   Le Pays des Autres, will be out soon from the New York Review of Books.
Bulaq 52: ‘Widows, Conmen, and Crimes’

Episode 52 of the BULAQ podcast comes together around a discussion of three books: