“But if a city hasn’t been used by an artist not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.” Alisdair Grey “Lanark”
Somewhere at the back of my mind is the idea that one travels to a country, city or place in one’s head long before one actually gets there – sometimes the entire journey is the book. Well with this in mind I’m thinking what to read on the aeroplane – I prefer a hard copy rather than an ebook.
I’ve already read
Norman Mailer’s masterpiece Ancient Evenings
Wilbur Smith River God et al
Perhaps Elizabeth Peters crime books (not too taxing) but apparently well researched, drawback is they aren’t set in the modern era.
I couldn’t really get on with any of the Christian Jacq novels – despite all their obvious attractions.
Would also be nice to have a literary novel as a standby? That’s not me being a snob – just that literary novels tend, in my experience, to be denser and therefore more absorbing.
I’ve read Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy.
If he wrote about Luxor I would definitely recommend more from this author.
The following suggestions are abstracted from the following informative webpage:
“Children of Gebelawi” (1959) is one of Mahfouz’s best known works. It chronicles a family feud over Gebelaawi’s new mansion built in a desert oasis. Echoing, to a certain extent, the stories of certain Bibical characters, the book was banned in Egypt and throughout the Arab world, except in the Lebanon, for alleged blasphemy over its allegorical portrayal of God.
or what about:
THE COLLAR AND THE BRACELET: MODERN ARABIC STORIES (Modern Arabic Literature)
by Yahya Taher Abdullah, translated by Samah Selim (The American University in Cairo Press, 2008)
Dark short stories of village life in Karnak, set against the backdrop of the British campaigns in Sudan, the Second World War, and the war in Palestine,”The Collar and the Bracelet” is the grim saga of the troubled Bishari family. A modernist narrative tapestry of love and revenge with the flavour of a folk story
Another Egyptian novelist would be:
GAMAL AL-GHITANI although most of his work is currently only available in Arabic.
Although no longer up to date – Rex Keating’s travel books NUBIAN TWILIGHT etc might be
worth a look. “In Nubian Twilight Keating sees the High Dam as ‘the twilight of Nubia’ – a land he loves, and here shows us in detail. He covers its highway, the keeper of the door of the South, the ‘Belly of Stone’, ‘The Guardians of the Cataract’, Island of the King, ‘Viceroys of Kush and Abu Simbel’, ‘Ozymandias’, the ‘Kingdom of Kush’ and the ‘Coming of Byzantium’.
Includes a chronology and maps.”
A friend recommended the Arabic travel writer Tahir Shah – whose work does indeed look impressive although nothing in English yet that covers Egypt more than tangentially. Perhaps Timbuctoo – see http://www.tahirshah.com.
I will be visiting bookshops, printers perhaps even other publishers whilst in Luxor on the lookout for the next big thing. Last time I noticed that the shop attached to the mummification museum on the corniche has a good selection of books, mainly from American University in Cairo Press – whilst there it is also worth buying this lovely little museum’s recently published catalogue.