Waguih Ghali Diaries. Photo by Mira Maged
CAIRO – 30 January 2018 : Egypt Today toured the Cairo International Book Fair and spotted some new controversial book releases.
Have you ever heard of the novel “Beer in the Snooker Club”? Although it’s the first and only book by late Egyptian novelist Waguih Ghali, it became one of the most magnificent classics in Arab literature. Although this novel is considered to be semi-biographical, the writer’s life worth being portrayed as Ghali was an extraordinary political novelist.
According to Goodreads, in “Beer In The Snooker Club”, Ram, the main character, lives in the early years of Nasser’s Egypt, between 1952 and 1958. The novel revolves around many long beer-fueled conversations between Ram and his friends, tackling controversial views on imperialism, communism, class and revolution.
According to AUC Press, in 1968, Ghali committed suicide in the London flat of his editor, friend and lover, Diana Athill. Ghali documented his diaries in six notebooks, which were mostly inaccessible to the public.
One of the organizers at the AUC Bookstore booth mentioned that the rare diaries were published and released only by AUC Press for the first time this year.
At the AUC booth, you will find two volumes for “The Diaries Of Waguih Ghali”, in which a fascinating mysterious literary character is portrayed. The diaries are an account of daily struggles and insecurities that may seem familiar to any Arab citizen, especially if he is a writer who lost his home in his childhood and his country in his youth like Ghali.
Through editing these diaries, Mahy Hawas shed much light on Ghali’s honest treatement of himself, which made him present some painful episodes in these diaries. These diaries also highlight some significant life stages that Ghali lived in a restricting culture, in which the conflicts of the region were somehow reduced between Islamists and authoritarian rulers.
Also revealing how impossible it is to live for one’s own pleasure, Ghali seemed to be depressed to the extent that he confessed his real thoughts and feelings about all of his relationships.
Moving to “Masr Al Arabeya” for publishing and distribution, you will find the latest book by prominent Egyptian feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi, “Nashat Mokathaf” (Condensed Energy).
Altough Sadaawi is known for her daring books, but Salwa Saeed, a salesperson at the booth, told Egypt Today that this is the most daring of her books. Saadawi has exclusively stated to the publishing house that this book contains the most fearless thoughts and incidents she has ever expressed.
Saeed also referred to three controversial books by the same Iraqi author, Abdel Razak Al Jubran, who is known for his bold existential thoughts. She added that Jubran’s books are banned in many Arab regions.
Books for Iraqi writer Abdel Razak Al Jubran. Photo by Mira Maged.
Also worth mentioning is that Haitham Al-Haj Ali, chairman of the Egyptian General Book Organization, announced that the number of visitors to the Cairo International Book Fair in its 49th edition has so far exceeded one million. Meanwhile, Dr. Ahmed Awwad, chairman of the Cultural Palace Authority, announced that there are seven book titles that fully ran out on the third day of the Cairo International Book Fair in its 49th edition. The titles are: “The Divine Comedy”, “The Egyptian Mosques” and “Kalila and Dimnah”, among others.