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Being Abbas el Abd: A Modern Arabic Novel (Modern Arabic Literature) Paperback – October 15, 2009


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Being Abbas el Abd: A Modern Arabic Novel (Modern Arabic Literature) + Beer in the Snooker Club (Vintage International) + Thieves in Retirement: A Novel (Middle East Literature in Translation)
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Arabic Literature
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press; 2nd edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9774163095
  • ISBN-13: 978-9774163098
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 4.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,027,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Being Abbas el Abd is packed with ideas and issues, tackling identity and, especially, adaptation to the contemporary world. --The Complete Review

About the Author


HUMPHREY DAVIES earned his doctorate in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the translator of Thebes at War by Naguib Mahfouz (AUC Press 2003) and The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (AUC Press 2004).

More About the Author

Egyptian novelist, born on December 24, 1974. He is the author of the novel Being Abbas El Abd (2006) , (An Takoun Abbas El Abd) (2003). He studied marketing at Cairo University, and has worked as a scriptwriter on quiz shows and for the cinema, and as a writer of satirical stories for young people and a book designer. He wrote a political comic strip ,and poems for an Egyptian opposition weekly newspaper.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Fox on January 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
In a Cairo circa 2003, inhabited entirely by 20-somethings, the narrator -- who may or may not be named Abdullah -- gets into terrible jams and awkward situations thanks to a slovenly roommate named Abbas el Abd, who is either a demonic trickster or a psychotic projection of the narrator himself. Who knows? He certainly doesn't. But in his confusions and anger you get a taste of the consumer anxieties, frustrations -- sexual and also of national pride -- and daily humiliations by those in authority that were a large part of what the masses in Tahrir Square in January of this year (2011) were protesting against, especially the younger ones, and that is a good reason to read this short, chaotic novel. Here's a sample of some of the daily frustrations that might drive a young Cairene nuts:

«Abbas says the utilities shaft of the apartment block is the only place where a man can read the papers in the morning when his wife grudgingly shuts up so as to able to listen to the neighbors quarreling. Episode 7009 of the sitcom "Life," starring my neighbor and his esteemed wife.
...
Click. The Nine O'Clock News. A quick shot: in the market place in Jerusalem an Israeli conscript kicks an old woman in the stomach, and Jaffa oranges fall from her hands and are squashed beneath the huge boots.»

Translator Humphrey Davies has done a complex, acrobatic job rendering Alaidy's mix of classical and colloquial Arabic and newly-minted expressions grabbed from English (al-boyyi frind, for example). His note at the end of the book is well worth reading to put this little book in context.
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By RKT on April 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a taut, dizzying portrayal of madness. It's personal, psychological madness. But it's also the madness of a lost Egyptian generation. Lacking economic possibilities and disillusioned by bankrupt ideologies--both local and foreign--this is the generation that Abbas el Abd himself calls the "I've-got-nothing-left-to-lose" generation. With a series of twists, turns, and confusions, the reader feels a piece of the soul crushing one must encounter in a modern world that seems to offer so many promises--that pulses, swirls, and shines with seemingly endless possibilities--but whose dazzle is really just a maze of funhouse mirror distortions.

I read the book twice before I felt I was able to put the complex pieces of this story together. But at roughly 130 pages, the second read was hardly time consuming. And it was well worth it. My only regret is that I am unable to read the book in it's original Arabic. After reading the translator's note, it is clear that some of the subtlety and layering has been lost in the shift between languages.

Still, if you enjoy postmodern, psychologically-driven literature, if you're interested in a compelling glimpse into Egypt's "Tahrir Square" generation--or perhaps both--I highly recommend *Being Abbas el Abd".
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Westcott on October 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this new novel out of Cairo. Written by an Iowa Writers Center graduate and so dedicated to his mentor there Chuck Palahniuk, it is a cubist portrait of a mind losing its way--set in the cafe culture of modern Egypt. Dizzying and long-lasting.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Charnes on July 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you do not understand what is going on in the Arab world, and even if you do...This book is kinda odd.
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