Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed (Paperback)
When throngs of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to demand the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Ahdaf Soueif—author, journalist, lifelong progressive—was among them. Now, in this deeply personal work, Soueif summons her storytelling talents to trace her city’s—and nation’s—ongoing transformation.
She writes of the youth who led the revolts, and of the jubilation in the streets at Mubarak’s departure. We then watch as Egyptians fight for democracy, as the interim military government throws up obstacles at every step, and as an Islamist is voted into power. Against this stormy backdrop, Soueif casts memories of her own Cairo—the open-air cinema; her family’s land, in sight of the pyramids—and affirms the beauty of this ancient city. Soueif's postscript considers Egypt’s more recent turns in its difficult but deeply inspiring path toward its great human aims.
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.
“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