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Literary Gems on World Book and Copyright Day: Egyptian Authors and Their Captivating Works

April 23, 2024

On 23 April, the literary world unites to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day. The UN has designated this date to honor the legacies of literary giants such as William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. 

It’s a day that serves as a reminder of the profound connection books forge between past and future, transcending generations and cultures. 

So, let’s delve into the literary treasures of Egypt and the remarkable authors who have shaped its literary landscape.

Taha Hussein: “The Days”

Taha Hussein, The Dean of Arabic Literature, leaves an indelible mark with his life-writing masterpiece, “The Days.” This captivating work, translated by E.H. Paxton, Hilary Wayment, and Kenneth Cragg, is divided into three parts: “An Egyptian Childhood,” “The Stream of Days: A Student at the Azhar,” and “A Passage to France.” 

Through his eloquent prose, Hussein takes readers on a journey through his personal experiences, offering insights into Egyptian society and the pursuit of knowledge.

Tawfiq al-Hakim: “A Bullet in the Heart”

Tawfiq al-Hakim, a pioneering figure in modern Arabic literature, has left an enduring legacy. Renowned as the founder of an entire literary tradition, al-Hakim’s plays, including “A Bullet in the Heart,” “Leaving Paradise,” and “The People of the Cave,” have captivated audiences with their thought-provoking themes and profound social commentary. 

His influence extends beyond the written word, as his play “Death Song” served as the basis for the opera “Sumeida’s Song” by Mohammed Fairouz.

Ahdaf Soueif: “In the Eye of the Sun”

Ahdaf Soueif, a celebrated Egyptian author and journalist, enchants readers with her novel “In the Eye of the Sun.” Through the eyes of the young Egyptian woman Asya, Soueif skillfully blends love, politics, and a vivid portrayal of Egypt over a decade. 

This compelling narrative serves as a testament to Soueif’s ability to weave together personal and political themes. Her novel “The Map of Love” is also a noteworthy literary gem.

Alaa El Aswany: “Yacoubian Building”

Alaa El Aswany’s “Yacoubian Building” has garnered international acclaim for its scathing portrayal of modern Egyptian society. Set in Cairo’s historic Yacoubian Building, this novel introduces readers to a diverse cast of characters, shedding light on the complexities and challenges faced by individuals from different walks of life. 

El Aswany fearlessly tackles societal issues, including corruption, making this work a thought-provoking and controversial masterpiece.

Yusuf Idris: “City of Love and Ashes”

Translated from Arabic, Yusuf Idris’s “City of Love and Ashes” presents a powerful narrative set against the backdrop of British occupation and a corrupt monarchy. The story follows Hamza, a young Egyptian revolutionary, as he falls in love with Fawziya while navigating the larger battle for his country’s freedom. 

While the translation may not fully capture the original Arabic’s essence, the novel remains a must-read for its exploration of love, idealism, and the struggle for national liberation.

These remarkable works transport us across time and space, opening our minds to the beauty and complexities of Egypt’s literary heritage. So, grab a book, venture on a literary adventure, and let the words of these talented Egyptian writers ignite your imagination.

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