Being Abbas el Abd

Being Abbas el Abd

Hardcover(New Edition)



'What is madness?' asks the narrator of Ahmed Alaidy’s jittery, funny, and angry new novel, Being Abbas el Abd. Assuring readers that they are about to find out, the narrator takes us on his subsequent itinerary through the insanity of present-day Cairo: in and out of minibuses,
malls, and crash pads. Despite sniper fire from multiple sources (traffic cops, buxom but inaccessible co-eds, minibus barkers drumming belly-dance rhythms on the paneling of their vehicles, and others) the narrator navigates the city’s pinball machine of social life with tolerable efficiency, and is ever ready with a withering response.

In the interstices of his grouchy, chain-smoking, pharmaceutically-oriented, twenty-something life, however, lurk characters such as his elusive Uncle Awni, a well-known psychiatrist now on an ever-extending visit to America. And then there’s Abbas, the narrator’s best friend who,
while delivering mordant homilies on life and society ("We will survive only when we’ve turned our museums into public lavatories"), surfaces at critical moments to drive our hero into uncontrollably multiplying difficulties. For instance, there’s the ticklish situation with the
simultaneous blind-dates Abbas has set up for him in coffee-shops on different levels of a Cairo mall with two girls both called Hind. With friends like Abbas, what paranoiac needs enemies?
Sharing the intensity of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and the hip sensibility of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, Ahmed Alaidy’s work pushes the limits of written Arabic, developing private
meanings and personal rhythms that mirror the weft and warp of the narrator’s mind and revel in every linguistic register from ironic high Classical Arabic to the ingenious abuse of the streets via
the hip colloquial of Egypt’s 'what-have-I-got-to-lose' generation. A literary sensation in its original Arabic edition, Being Abbas el Abd heralds the arrival of a major new voice in Arabic literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789774160042
Publisher: American University in Cairo Press, The
Publication date: 10/01/2006
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

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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Being Abbas el Abd 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an almost poetic rant on short slice in the life of a young Egyptian. The author cites Chuck Palahniuk as his main influence, the author of Fight Club and other books. In the vein of Palahniuk, it is disturbing but not too crass, psychological and perhaps more taught and 'younger' than Palahniuk. In service of cool, the author does away with most of the storytelling threads that let the reader know what has happened or is happening, which makes the book a bit of a puzzle, an unrewarding puzzle. There are some great ideas here, but the author does not pull it off but if he becomes a bit more tethered he could be more like Pynchon or Vollmann in fifteen years, although I don't suspect that's his interest. An interesting read and commentary on Egyptian youth.