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Looking for a good book to read while you're traveling in Egypt? Check out my list of books about Egypt and by Egyptian authors.

Children of the Alley

Naguib Mahfouz
CATEGORIES: Classic/Culturally Significant | Sense of Culture

Also known as Children of Gebelawi, Mahfouz’s novel follows four characters who relive the lives of Adam, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad; a fifth represents modern science and technology. As a supporter of banned works (particularly those banned for religious reasons), I recommend you give it — or one of the prolific author’s many other books — a read. (Aside from Lebanon, all Arab countries had prohibited the book until 2006, nearly 50 years after it was originally published.) In 1988, the author received the Nobel Prize for Literature, the only Arab author ever to do so. His life and legacy are fascinating; I highly recommend you read his Wikipedia page.

The Days: His Autobiography in Three Parts

Taha Hussein
CATEGORIES: Person/Place/Event

This volume by one of the most influential 20th-century Egyptian writers and intellectuals comprises all three parts of his autobiography: The Days, An Egyptian Childhood, and The Stream of Days. As one of the most popular in all Arabic literature, Al-Ayyām (the original Arabic title) contains literary styles have so greatly impacted the development of the Arabic novel that he is often referred to as “the dean of Arabic literature.” Hussein’s fascinating life includes his role as a figurehead for the Arab Renaissance and the modernist movement in the Arab world and the astonishing twenty-one times he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Playing Cards in Cairo

Hugh Miles
CATEGORIES: Sense of Culture

Written by a journalist with extensive experience in the Middle East, the “fly-on-the-wall account” offers a glimpse into seldom-seen aspects of women in Cairo society. Miles’ love of the city comes through in his honest assessment of both its allure and drawbacks.

(Recommended by @Booksandwine76, book and wine lover)

Shubeik Lubeik

Deena Mohamed
CATEGORIES: Sense of Culture

In an alternate Cairo where wishes really are granted (for the right price), three people must decide if they truly want their dreams to become reality. The graphic novel, Arabic for “Your wish is my command,” is the first in a planned trilogy by the author, who came to prominence at the age of 18 for her webcomic Qahera, about hijab-wearing superheroine, that went viral during the 2012-2013 Egyptian protests.

The Teacher of Cheops

Albert Salvadó
CATEGORIES: Classic/Culturally Significant

From A Year of Reading the World: “Following the fortunes of Sedum, a slave during the Fourth Dynasty of Pharaohs in Egypt roughly 4,500 years ago, the book explores themes of ambition and self-determination, marking out the boundary line between responsible goals and overweening greed. As Sedum rises in status through luck and his own shrewdness, eventually becoming Pharaoh Snefru’s accountant and tutor to his son Cheops, he runs up against a series of ruthless individuals intent on sacrificing everything in their paths, including Sedum, in the interests of personal gain. These battles of wills and their extreme consequences keep the pages turning, stoking a sense of drama that draws the reader through, rooting for Sedum all the way.”

(Recommended by Ann Morgan, author and TED speaker)

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