If you only read translated Arabic literature you might get the impression Egyptians are a rather serious lot. While so-called “sarcastic” Egyptian novels are very popular, they’re generally seen as non-literary and often are not translated.
But Nael Eltoukhy’s recent Women of Karantina, published in Arabic in 2013 and in English in 2014,crosses the line from satiric to serious and back again. “Many writers describe the book as a sarcastic work but I don’t think so,” Eltoukhy said at a recent book event in Cairo. He agrees it has a sense of humor but it “is not sarcastic.”
Funny books are usually written off as second-rate by Arab critics. But Eltoukhy does not places his…
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