English edition  
248 pp.
15X23 cm
ISBN 9789774167805
For sale worldwide


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The Diaries of Waguih Ghali

An Egyptian Writer in the Swinging SixtiesVolume 1: 1964–66 Edited by May Hawas
Including an interview with Diana Athill

The captivating diaries of an Egyptian political exile, novelist, and libertine intellectual in sixties Europe

In 1968 Egyptian novelist and political exile Waguih Ghali committed suicide in the London flat of his editor, friend, and sometime lover, Diana Athill. Ghali left behind six notebooks of diaries that for decades were largely inaccessible to the public. The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian in the Swinging Sixties, in two volumes, is the first publication of its kind of the journals, casting fascinating light on a likable and highly enigmatic literary personality. Waguih Ghali (1930?–69), author of the acclaimed novel Beer in the Snooker Club, was a libertine, sponger, and manic depressive, but also an extraordinary writer, a pacifist, and a savvy political commentator. Covering the last four years of his life, Ghali’s Diaries offer an exciting glimpse into London’s swinging sixties. Volume 1 tells of Ghali’s life in Rheydt, West Germany, providing unique insights from the perspective of an Egyptian immigrant on postwar Germany and shedding light on Ghali’s own writing and personality when he was at the peak of his depression. This volume also includes his reminiscences of his childhood in Alexandria and Cairo, drawing in bittersweet nostalgia a picture of a bygone era in Egypt, while in the background loom what would become milestone events in his adopted countries in subsequent decades: the Treblinka trials and the gains of the National Democratic Party in Germany and the rise of the Labour Party in Britain. Including an interview conducted by Deborah Starr with celebrated literary editor Diana Athill OBE, the Diaries bring together those most familiar with Ghali’s life and work, and offer a fresh take on a distinctive author and a vibrant decade.

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May Hawas is assistant professor of English and comparative literature at Alexandria University, and associate editor of the Journal of World Literature. She received her PhD in literature from Leuven University, and has been a visiting scholar in France and Germany. She has published various academic articles and book chapters, and some of her short stories have appeared in Mizna, Yellow Medicine, and African Writing.

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"Certainly a must-read for anyone interested in Ghali's work and perhaps of wider interest."—Marcia Lynx Qualey, Arabic Literature (in English)//endoftext//endoftext“Waguih Ghali’s widely acclaimed novel Beer in the Snooker Club has become a classic of Arabic literature. Written from an exilic perspective in 1960s Germany, it chronicles the demise of colonial-cosmopolitanism and the emergence of anti-colonial authoritarianism in postrevolutionary Egypt. Ghali, like other once marginalized authors and artists, has become an intellectual reference in and outside the Arab world for current attempts to re-articulate the terms of the debate on culture, nation, and the world in times of painful transition from an old order to something unknown. The publication of his diaries is an important contribution to this endeavor, for it enables us to learn more about the author and his context. Ghali was a non-conformist socialist, a political dissenter, an avant-garde figure, haunted by alienation, depression, nostalgia, and by being a little too fond of the good life, and by contradictions that still mark our times.”—Georges Khalil, Forum Transregionale Studien//endoftext//endoftext“The diaries give us a clearer picture of Ghali and the nature of his life in exile, and help to correct some misconceptions about him. They constitute an important document of confession in which we can trace and reflect on the difficulties of writing and the alienation of a writer who lost his home in his childhood and his country in his youth.”—Iman Ali, al-Hayat//endoftext//endoftext"Meticulously edited by May Hawas. . . . The diaries cover, and shed much light on, the last four years of Ghali’s life as well as, through reminiscences, aspects of his youth."—Paul K Lyons, The Diary Review//endoftext//endoftext“The author clearly imagines—or at least hopes—the diary will one day be published in book form. As he hopes it, he also worries that we, who will read his once-private thoughts, will laugh at him. ‘This, to me, is one of the cruelest things I am experiencing.’ He needn′t have agonized over this. While a reader who admires Beer in the Snooker Club might be disappointed at the Diaries′ very different tone, it would take a stone-hearted reader to laugh at the author′s suffering.”—Marcia Lynx Qualey, Qantara.de//endoftext//endoftext“An account of a daily struggle to avoid ‘sinking’, to fight the ‘cafard’, not to succumb to ‘the disease’ – all the different names Ghali finds for his depression. His every romantic relationship (and there were many: he was attractive to women) is doomed by his terror of being humiliated and abandoned.”—Ursula Lindsey, London Review of Books//endoftext//endoftext“The diary is compulsive. It is (or seems to be) scathingly honest in his treatment of himself, and there are episodes that are almost too painful to read . . . . But against all the odds he is likeable, almost a little admirable, and brave in his contorted way.”—Martin Rose, Mercurius Maghrebensis blog//endoftext//endoftext“Reading Ghali’s writings is a highly effective antidote to the dominant cultural polarization of our debates over the Arab world that all too often assert a supposedly monolithic Islamic culture and in which the tensions of the region are reduced to a binary between Islamists and authoritarian rulers. Ghali’s work cheerfully turns the tables, lays open intermediate layers, and shatters stereotypes. It is high time to discover—or rediscover—this writer.”—Michael Hack, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung//endoftext//endoftext“Ghali’s struggles and insecurities feel terribly familiar, and it is oddly comforting to see them laid bare. His diaries serve as a cautionary tale on the fate of the idle intellectual, a portrait of the impossibility of a life lived in the in-betweens, and a liberating account of ‘living for one’s own pleasure.’ It is perhaps in those brief moments when everything seemed lost that Ghali could attain the real, reckless, individualist happiness that eluded him in his doomed love affairs.”—Lara El Gibaly, Mada Masr//endoftext//endoftext“Astonishingly frank”—Susannah Tarbush, The Tanjara

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