Fiction in Translation
English edition  
April  2005
432 pp.
Hardbound
15X23 cm
$24.95
LE100
ISBN 9789774248863
For sale worldwide

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Birds of Amber

Ibrahim Abdel Meguid
Translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab

A new novel about Alexandria by the award-winning Egyptian writer

During the 1956 Suez War—or the Tripartite Aggression, as it is known in Egypt—life in Alexandria goes on. The railroad workers and their families live in the low-income housing of el-Masakin, along the Mahmudiya Canal, but some of them take us on forays into the other, cosmopolitan Alexandria, whose European denizens, mainly Greeks, Italians, and Jews are departing in droves. This spellbinding novel teems with memorable characters, not a few of whom are themselves storytellers: a budding novelist writing about el-Masakin and its eccentric denizens and about his own improbable love affair with a 12-year-old girl; a spice merchant dreaming of the bygone glory of his ancestors and their trade along the spice road, beginning on the Malabar Coast; a train guard who is a teller of very tall tales; and a would-be filmmaker trying to make a film showing what happened in Port Said during the war. Then there is the cinema aficionado who plays Tarzan in real life along the Mahmudiya Canal; the young boy who leads a group of assorted crazies every afternoon to see ‘God’ at sunset; the singing nurse whose only dream is to perform on the radio; and Arabi, the young man who is in love with all things European, but especially with his employer, Katina the widowed Greek dressmaker. As in his earlier novel, No One Sleeps in Alexandria, Ibrahim Abdel Meguid here combines historical fact with fiction, and the mundane with the fantastical, to weave an engrossing, multilayered story of stories.

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Ibrahim Abdel Meguid was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for his novel The Other Place (AUC Press, 1997). He is the author of a number of other novels, including No One Sleeps in Alexandria (AUC Press, 1999). Farouk Abdel Wahab was Ibn Rushd Professorial Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Chicago. He was the translator of many works of Arabic fiction, including Gamal al-Ghitani’s The Book of Epiphanies (AUC Press, 2012). He won the 2007 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of The Lodging House, by Khairy Shalaby (AUC Press pbk, 2008). He died in 2013.

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“…brimming over with an acute sense of place and enchanting images of Alexandria’s streets, quarters, architecture and landmarks, the sea and, most of all, the city’s diverse inhabitants.”—The Jordan Times

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