English edition  
May  2016
192 pp.
15X23 cm
ISBN 9789774168062
For sale worldwide


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Life Is More Beautiful than Paradise

A Jihadist’s Own Story Khaled al-Berry
Translated by Humphrey Davies

An autobiographical account of a journey into extremism

In 1986, when this autobiography opens, the author is a typical fourteen-year-old boy in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Attracted at first by the image of a radical Islamist group as “strong Muslims,” his involvement develops until he finds himself deeply committed to its beliefs and implicated in its activities. This ends when, as he leaves the university following a demonstration, he is arrested. Prison, a return to life on the outside, and attending Cairo University all lead to Khaled al-Berry’s eventual alienation from radical Islam. This book opens a window onto the mind of an extremist who turns out to be disarmingly like many other clever adolescents, and bears witness to a history with whose reverberations we continue to live. It also serves as an intelligent and critical guide for the reader to the movement’s unfamiliar debates and preoccupations, motives and intentions. Fluently written, intellectually gripping, exciting, and often funny, Life Is More Beautiful than Paradise provides a vital key to the understanding of a world that is both a source of fear and a magnet of curiosity for the west.
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Khaled al-Berry was born in Sohag, Egypt in 1972. He has a degree in medicine from Cairo University, and currently works as a journalist and writer in London, where he has been living since 1999. Humphrey Davies is the translator of a number of Arabic novels, including The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (AUC Press, 2004). He has twice been awarded the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.

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"Enjoyable and pioneering."—Marcia Lynx Qualey, al-Masri al-Yom<br><br>

“The author's refusal to demonize and his relative objectivity in telling the story is precisely what makes this book authentic and extremely important. Above all it provides a rare and valuable insight into how easily the young idealist can become radicalized by sects who believe that truth has just one face.”—The Huffington Post<br><br>

“The memoir reaches the core of how fanatics—sects of any kind—draw in conceited youngsters by essentially appealing to a naïve hunger for self-sacrifice.”—The Independent<br><br>

“a gripping narrative”—Church Times

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