From the best-selling author of "The Map of Love," here is a
bracing firsthand account of the Egyptian revolution--told with the
narrative instincts of a novelist, the gritty insights of an
activist, and the long perspective of a native Cairene.
Since January 25, 2011, when thousands of Egyptians gathered in
Tahrir Square to demand the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime, Ahdaf
Soueif--author, journalist, and lifelong progressive--has been
among the revolutionaries who have shaken Egypt to its core. In
this deeply personal work, Soueif summons her storytelling talents
to trace the trajectory of her nation's ongoing transformation. She
writes of the passion, confrontation, and sacrifice that she
witnessed in the historic first eighteen days of uprising--the
bravery of the youth who led the revolts and the jubilation in the
streets at Mubarak's departure. Later, the cityscape was ablaze
with political graffiti and street screenings, and with the
journalistic and organizational efforts of activists--including
Soueif and her family.
In the weeks and months after those crucial eighteen days, we watch
as Egyptians fight to preserve and advance their revolution--even
as the interim military government, the Supreme Council of the
Armed Forces, throws up obstacles at each step. She shows us the
council delaying abdication of power, undermining efforts toward
democracy, claiming ownership of the revolution while ignoring its
martyrs. We see elections held and an Islamist voted into power. At
each scene, Soueif gives us her view from the ground--brave,
intelligent, startlingly immediate. Against this stormy backdrop,
she interweaves memories of her own Cairo--the balcony of her
aunt's flat, where, as a child, she would watch the open-air
cinema; her first job, as an actor on a children's sitcom; her
mother's family land outside the city, filled with fruit trees and
palm groves, in sight of the pyramids. In so doing, she affirms the
beauty and resilience of this ancient and remarkable city. The book
ends with a postscript that considers Egypt's more recent turns:
the shifts in government, the ongoing confrontations between
citizen and state, and a nation's difficult but deeply inspiring
path toward its great, human aims--bread, freedom, and social
justice. In these pages, Soueif creates an illuminating snapshot of
an event watched by the world--the outcome of which continues to be
felt across the globe.
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