Translated by Robin Moger
Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature
In a world with no meaning, meaning is an act . . .
This is a story about building things up and knocking them down. Here are the campfire tales of Egypt’s dispossessed and disillusioned, the anti-Arabian Nights.
Our narrator, a rural immigrant from the Bedouin villages of the Fayoum, an aspiring novelist and construction laborer of the lowest order, leads us down a fractured path of reminiscence in his quest for purpose and identity in a world where the old orders and traditions are powerless to help.
Bawdy and wistful, tragicomic and bitter, his stories loop and repeat, crackling with the frictive energy of colliding worlds and linguistic registers. These are the tales of Cairo’s new Bedouin, men not settled by the state but permanently uprooted by it. Like their lives, their stories are dislocated and unplotted, mapping out their quest for meaning in the very act of placing brick on brick and word on word.
Hamdi Abu Golayyel was born in the Fayoum, Egypt, in 1967. He is the author of three short story collections and two novels, the first of which, Thieves in Retirement, was published in English in 2007. A Dog with No Tail was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2008.
Robin Moger is the translator of Otared by Mohammad Rabie and Women of Karantina by Nael Eltoukhy, among other books. His translation for Writing Revolution won the 2013 English PEN Award for outstanding writing in translation. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
"A sophisticated storytelling experiment. . . and a guarded but deeply felt celebration of writing"—The National
“A clever and complex meditation . . . full of swift sarcasm . . . an exploration of Abu Golayyel’s Bedouin identity”—Ursula Lindsey, Egypt Independent
“A darkly funny social satire.”—Bidoun
"A great read"—Mona Zaki, Banipal on Thieves in Retirement
"Masterful "—Library Journal on Thieves in Retirement
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