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Space in Modern Egyptian Fiction$
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Yasmine Ramadan

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474427647

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474427647.001.0001

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Cairo: Urban Space, Surveillance and the State

Cairo: Urban Space, Surveillance and the State

(p.31) 1 Cairo: Urban Space, Surveillance and the State
Space in Modern Egyptian Fiction

Yasmine Ramadan

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on the representation of the urban space of Cairo. It examines Sonallah Ibrahim’s Tilka-l-raʾiha (TheSmell of it, 1966), Gamal al-Ghitani’s Waqaʾiʿ harat al-Zaʿfarani (The Zafarani Files, 1976), Ibrahim Aslan’s Malik al-hazin (The Heron, 1981), and Radwa Ashour’s, Faraj (BlueLorries, 2008) reading the novels in opposition to the realist narratives of earlier decades. The shift away from the realist depictions of the urban metropolis as the site of national struggle, or of the alley as the cross-section of Egyptian society, is accompanied by a new representational aesthetics. Through the presentation of the city as the space of incarceration, the reimagination of the alley as a fantastic space, and the turn towards the previously ignored neighborhood of Imbaba, these writers showcase new literary techniques; aspects of magical realism; elements of the fantastic; a turn to hyper-realism, in order to represent the transformation of the urban space of Cairo into one of surveillance and control.

Keywords:   Sonallah Ibrahim, Gamal al-Ghitani, Ibrahim Aslan, Radwa Ashour, Cairo, Surveillance, Hyper-realism, Magical realism

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