'What is madness?' asks the narrator of Ahmed Alaidyâ€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 cityâ€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 thereâ€s Abbas, the narratorâ€s best friend who,
while delivering mordant homilies on life and society ("We will survive only when weâ€ve turned our museums into public lavatories"), surfaces at critical moments to drive our hero into uncontrollably multiplying difficulties. For instance, thereâ€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 Palahniukâ€s Fight Club and the hip sensibility of Douglas Couplandâ€s Generation X, Ahmed Alaidyâ€s work pushes the limits of written Arabic, developing private
meanings and personal rhythms that mirror the weft and warp of the narratorâ€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 Egyptâ€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.
|Publisher:||American University in Cairo Press, The|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)|
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