Fiction in Translation
English edition  
156 pp.
12.5X20 cm
ISBN 9789774166280
For sale worldwide


The Collar and the Bracelet

An Egyptian Novel Yahya Taher Abdullah
Translated by Samah Selim

A new paperback edition of the dark novella of village life in southern Egypt

Set in the ancient Upper Egyptian village of Karnak against the backdrop of the British campaigns in Sudan, the Second World War, and the war in Palestine, The Collar and the Bracelet is the stunning saga of the Bishari family—a family ripped apart by the violence of history, the dark conduits of human desire, and the rigid social conventions of village life. In a series of masterful narrative circles and repetitions, the novella traces the grim intrigues of Hazina al-Bishari and the inexorable destinies of her son, the exile and notorious bandit Mustafa, her daughter Fahima, tortured by guilt and secret passion, and the tragic doom of her beautiful granddaughter Nabawiya. Yahya Taher Abdullah’s haunting prose distills the rhythmic lyricism of the folk story and weaves it into a uniquely modernist narrative tapestry of love and revenge that beautifully captures the timeless pharaonic landscapes of Upper Egypt and the blind struggles of its inhabitants against poverty, exploitation, and time—themes that are echoed and amplified in the short stories included in this volume, which span the breadth of Abdullah’s tragically short career as one of Egypt’s most brilliant writers of modern fiction.
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Yahya Taher Abdullah (1938–1981) born in the Upper Egyptian village of Karnak, was a prominent figure in the circle of writers known as the Generation of the Sixties. He was the author of four novellas and five collections of short stories. A collection of his stories, The Mountain of Green Tea, translated by Denys Johnson-Davies, was published by the AUC Press in 1999. Samah Selim is the translator of Memories of a Meltdown: An Egyptian between Moscow and Chernobyl by Mohamed Makhzangi (AUC Press, 2006) and Brooklyn Heights by Miral al-Tahawy (AUC Press, 2011). She won the 2009 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for her translation of The Collar and the Bracelet, and the 2011 University of Arkansas Press Award for Arabic Literature in Translation for her translation of Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt. She currently teaches at Rutgers University.

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“Samah Selim has been able to catch the Upper Egyptian and folkloric rhythms – and their utterly unromantic yoking to the everyday grimness and intimacy of modern realities – that Abdullah pioneered in his fiction.”–Marilyn Booth, 2009 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize Judge

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