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Five great books set in EGYPT

31st October 2019

Egypt is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Egypt.

Five great books set in EGYPT

Egypt is the cradle of civilizations of the world, a place where the earliest development of agriculture, urbanisation, and writing started. It is home to great landscapes, pyramids and the Nile river. Its people created a brilliant culture which influenced other cultures all around the world. This country is one of the places that must be visited at least once in a lifetime.

Absolution by Paul Hardisty

Sequel to the critically acclaimed The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear and Reconciliation for the Dead. Claymore Straker returns in another gripping, page-turning, socially conscious thriller, with more at stake than ever…

It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible.

Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible. Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolutionis a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.

Out of Egypt by André Aciman

Set in luxuriant cosmopolitan Alexandria, this richly colored memoir chronicles the exploits of a flamboyant Jewish family from its bold arrival in Egypt at the turn of the century to its defeated exodus three generations later.

In elegant and witty prose, André Aciman introduces us to the Olympian figures who shaped his life: Uncle Vili, the strutting daredevil, by turns soldier, salesman, Italian Fascist, and British spy; the two grandmothers, the Princess and the Saint, who gossip in six languages; the father, a diffident capitalist who considers converting to Islam to maintain his Alexandrian dolce vita; Aunt Flora, the German refugee who warns that Jews lose everything “at least twice in their lives.”

The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton

“We’ve been doing the same thing for hundreds of years. Marching, fighting, chanting, dying, changing, winning, losing . This time will be different. This time the future can still be made new.”

This is a revolution. On the streets of Cairo, a violent uprising is transforming the course of modern history. Mariam and Khalil, two young activists, are swept up in the political fervour. Their lives will never be the same again.

Brave, visceral, and electric with tension, Omar Robert Hamilton’s debut novel uniquely captures the feverish intensity of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. From the euphoria of mass protests to the chilling silence of the morgue, The City Always Wins is the only novel that allows readers to pierce to the bloody heart of the uprising. Intensely lyrical, yet uncompromisingly political, Omar Robert Hamilton’s writing is set to become the defining voice of a revolution that promised so much to so many.

From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple

A rich blend of history and spirituality, adventure and politics, laced with the thread of black comedy familiar to readers of William Dalrymple’s previous work.

In AD 587, two monks, John Moschos and Sophronius the Sophist, embarked on an extraordinary journey across the Byzantine world, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. Their aim: to collect the wisdom of the sages and mystics of the Byzantine East before their fragile world shattered under the eruption of Islam. Almost 1500 years later, using the writings of John Moschos as his guide, William Dalrymple set off to retrace their footsteps.

Taking in a civil war in Turkey, the ruins of Beirut, the tensions of the West Bank and a fundamentalist uprising in Egypt, William Dalrymple’s account is a stirring elegy to the dying civilisation of Eastern Christianity.

(If you’re a fan of William Dalrymple’s evocative travelogues, read TripFiction’s separate Authors on Location article).

The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell

Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea make up the Alexandria Quartet.

Lawrence Durrell was one of the best-selling, most celebrated English novelists of the late 20th century.

The Alexandria Quartet is unquestionably his most admired work, at heart a sensuous and brilliant evocation of wartime Alexandria. In this world of corrupt glamour, L. G. Darley attempts to reconcile himself to the end of his affair with the dark, passionate Justine Hosnani – setting alight a beguiling exploration of sexual and political intrigue that the author himself described as ‘an investigation of modern love’.

BONUS BOOK:

The Ghost Runner by Parker Bilal

The protagonist is Sudanese, living in Cairo and the subtle aspects of life in that part of the world are effortlessly conveyed by the author. It is Cairo, 2002. Makana and Sindbad are instructed by Magdy Ragab to follow her lawyer husband. Meanwhile a young woman Karima lies dying after being burned. How these two story lines come together.

 

Andrew for the TripFiction Team

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