Fiction in Translation
English edition  
192 pp.
12.5X20 cm
ISBN 9789774166266
For sale worldwide


Black Magic

An Egyptian Novel Hamdy el-Gazzar
Translated by Humphrey Davies

A new paperback edition of the award-winning first novel by a young Egyptian writer

As a fourteen-year-old, Nasir was entranced by his father’s gift of a camera, finding in it the means both to possess beauty and to assert himself. Now a hack working for state television, Nasir meets Fatin, an independent woman older than himself who has escaped a suffocating marriage and is secure in taking what she wants from life. An affair begins that quickly pulls Nasir into a whirlwind of incandescent erotic and emotional obsession. In a world of superficiality, materialism, violence, and sexual hysteria seen through the unforgiving lens of his camera, Nasir’s life is in limbo. A yearning for escape and a fear of loneliness propel him into a relationship in which he is at once enraptured and non-committal. The resolution of this volatile mix lies in a violent confrontation between repulsion and desire. Black Magic was awarded the prestigious Sawiris Foundation Prize in Egyptian Literature in 2006.
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Hamdy el-Gazzar was born in 1970 in Cairo and graduated in philosophy from Cairo University. Since 1990 he has published several short stories and articles in the Arabic press, as well as writing and directing three plays. His first novel, Black Magic (AUC Press, 2007), received the 2006 Sawiris Foundation Prize in Egyptian Literature. Humphrey Davies is the translator of Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz (AUC Press, 2011) and other works of Arabic literature. He has twice received the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation: in 2006, for his translation of Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun, and in 2010, for his translation of Elias Khoury’s Yalo. He was also the runner-up in 2012 for his translation of I Was Born There, I Was Born Here by Mourid Barghouti (AUC Press, 2011).

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To watch an interview on the AUC Press YouTube channel with Hamdy el-Gazzar, talking about Black Magic, click here.


Humphrey Davies talks about the realities and challenges of translating from Arabic. Click here for the interview.


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“Through the power of his imaginative black magic, Hamdy el-Gazzar resurrects slumbering art forms with a skill rarely seen in a young writer.”—Salah Fadl, Al-Ahram//endoftext//endoftext

“A new vision in narrative writing . . . . A novel of such elegance and intimacy is to be truly saluted.”—Mahmud Qurani, al-Quds al-‘Arabi

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