"Zamalek" is a novel that, at first, seems like a travelogue full of descriptions of strange customs, a lexicon of exotic terms or some twisted Baedeker or travel guidebook about Egypt. Little by little, from newly discovered aspects of Egyptian history and description of its inhabitants’ mentality, a story begins to emerge – the story of Kismet.
In the heart of Cairo, on an island in the middle of the Nile, for decades there was an antique shop full of all kinds of treasures, like Ali Baba’s cave. The shop, the most famous in that part of the world, was run by Kosta, a renowned Egyptologist, and his daughter Arna, until Kismet, owing to some of Kosta’s mysterious sins, decided otherwise.
This story, which mixes the earthly and the afterlife, could not happen anywhere else but Cairo: that desert megalopolis, its quiet neighbourhood Zamalek, its people, its customs, the heat of the city, the dust that is constantly falling and the Nile flowing like life. These are all as important to the novel as the characters of Costa the antiquarian and narrator Arna.
This project has been funded with support from the Creative Europe Programme of the European Commission.