History
English edition  
July  2017
224 pp.
Hardbound
15X23 cm
$35.00
LE300
ISBN 9789774168123
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The Diaries of Waguih Ghali

An Egyptian Writer in the Swinging SixtiesVolume 2: 1966–68 Edited by May Hawas

The captivating diaries of an Egyptian political exile, novelist, and libertine intellectual in sixties Europe

In 1968 Egyptian novelist and political exile Waguih Ghali committed suicide in the London flat of his editor, friend, and sometime lover, Diana Athill. Ghali left behind six notebooks of diaries that for decades were largely inaccessible to the public. The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian in the Swinging Sixties, in two volumes, is the first publication of its kind of the journals, casting fascinating light on a likable and highly enigmatic literary personality. Waguih Ghali (1930?–69), author of the acclaimed novel Beer in the Snooker Club, was a libertine, sponger, and manic depressive, but also an extraordinary writer, a pacifist, and a savvy political commentator. Covering the last four years of his life, Ghali’s Diaries offer an exciting glimpse into London’s swinging sixties. Volume 2 covers the period from 1966 to 1968. Moving from West Germany to London and Israel, and back in memory to Egypt and Paris, the entries boast of endless drinking, countless love affairs, and of mingling with the dazzling intellectuals of London, but the Diaries also critique the sinister political circles of Jerusalem and Cairo, describe Ghali’s trepidation at being the first Egyptian allowed into Israel after the 1967 War, and confess in detail the pain and difficulties of writing and exile. Including an interview conducted by Deborah Starr with Ghali’s cousin, former director of UNICEF-Geneva, Samir Basta.

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May Hawas is assistant professor of English and comparative literature at Alexandria University, and associate editor of the Journal of World Literature. She received her PhD in literature from Leuven University, and has been a visiting scholar in France and Germany. She has published various academic articles and book chapters, and some of her short stories have appeared in Mizna, Yellow Medicine, and African Writing.

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“Waguih Ghali’s widely acclaimed novel Beer in the Snooker Club has become a classic of Arabic literature. Written from an exilic perspective in 1960s Germany, it chronicles the demise of colonial-cosmopolitanism and the emergence of anti-colonial authoritarianism in postrevolutionary Egypt. Ghali, like other once marginalized authors and artists, has become an intellectual reference in and outside the Arab world for current attempts to re-articulate the terms of the debate on culture, nation, and the world in times of painful transition from an old order to something unknown. The publication of his diaries is an important contribution to this endeavor, for it enables us to learn more about the author and his context. Ghali was a non-conformist socialist, a political dissenter, an avant-garde figure, haunted by alienation, depression, nostalgia, and by being a little too fond of the good life, and by contradictions that still mark our times.”—Georges Khalil, Forum Transregionale Studien

"Certainly a must-read for anyone interested in Ghali's work and perhaps of wider interest."—Marcia Lynx Qualey, Arabic Literature (in English)

"Meticulously edited by May Hawass. . . . The diaries cover, and shed much light on, the last four years of Ghali's life as well as, through reminiscences, aspects of his youth."—Paul K Lyons, The Diary Review

“An account of a daily struggle to avoid ‘sinking’, to fight the ‘cafard’, not to succumb to ‘the disease’ – all the different names Ghali finds for his depression. His every romantic relationship (and there were many: he was attractive to women) is doomed by his terror of being humiliated and abandoned.”—Ursula Lindsey, London Review of Books

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