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Being Abbas el Abd: A Modern Arabic Novel (Modern Arabic Literature) Paperback – October 15, 2009
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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).
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Top Customer Reviews
«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.
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".