Mona Prince’s revolution

 

Last month, the Book Alley, AUC Press's book club, invited Mona Prince to talk about her 2011 revolution during an Author Discussion & Book Signing event hosted by Diwan Bookstore in Zamalek.

Her latest book Revolution Is My Name (“Ismi Swara”) translated by Samia Mehrez, (AUC Press, 2014) is written as an Egyptian woman’s diary from her eighteen days in Tahrir.

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“We are very happy to have published the translation of Mona’s book,” said moderator Neil Hewison, AUC Press associate director for editorial programs, in his introduction.

“There have been many books published about the Revolution of 2011 in the last four years now, some of which are photographic books, such as a few we published ourselves, others are accounts, the background, the politics of the revolution. But there have been very few personal, direct accounts of the events and experiences of being in the 'midan' every day for 18 days. And that is what Mona brings to us. She was a reluctant revolutionary to start with. She got kind of dragged in. She was not very keen in the beginning and then found herself more involved. But once she was there, she was there for the whole thing.”


Mona Prince is a writer, author of three novels, including So You May See (AUC Press, 2011), and a scholar. She currently teaches at Claremont College in California.

   

 

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“I started writing [Revolution Is My Name] at the end of March 2011 and finished in February 2012. I had two reasons for writing it: I knew that the history that I participated in was going to be falsified and different versions would be told of those 18 days. Also I read other accounts that I felt did not reflect me so I wanted to write to register my own experience,” said the Egyptian writer.

“I started posting every chapter I wrote on Facebook because I needed feedback from the people. I was really interested in knowing if I was on the right track,” added Prince.

“I wanted to keep the tone of the book as I lived [the 18 days], perhaps with a tone of naiveté, simplicity, and optimism as well. I kept the camera eye technique for my style of writing,” she said.

    

“I joined not because I believed it was going to happen but I wanted to see. What particularly impressed me in Tahrir Square was that a huge cross section of society was there. It was young and old, men and women, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor, educated and not so educated but the amazing thing was that everyone made it like one community. It was very well organized…. It was a historic time in Egypt’s history. Things may have gone in unexpected ways since then which we are still catching up with maybe….” said Prince.

“When I started writing this book I discovered what a strong sense of sarcasm I have and I had to resort to that. It was obvious in Tahrir, seeing the people with their humor. It is humor, which can be harsh sometimes, that makes us survive. It is a major element in the book despite all the horror scenes,” she added

 

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After her brief introduction about the book, Mona Prince read three short excerpts, and took questions from the audience.

Readers wanted to know if she had been afraid while in Tahrir during the 18 days, how she reacted to the news of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak being cleared of charges last November, why the current government was not doing more to help the poor, and what she would do first if she were elected president.

The event ended with a book signing.

 

She dedicates her book “To All Egyptians.” “We are all Egyptians at the very end,” said Prince during the evening.

“I don’t pretend to know how things started, how it ended, or still has not ended. Those days were great. I learned a lot from being with the people. For me to be with millions of people was something really big. It enriched me on so many levels.”

     

 

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