- The Girl with Braided Hair
The Girl with Braided Hair
by Rasha Adly
Translated by Sarah Enany
WINNER OF THE SAIF GHOBASH BANIPAL PRIZE FOR ARABIC LITERARY TRANSLATION
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR ARABIC FICTION
The lives of two women living centuries apart are connected by an enigmatic painting in this mesmerizing debut based on historical events
Art historian, Yasmine, is restoring an unsigned portrait of a strikingly beautiful girl from the Napoleonic Era, when she discovers that the artist has embedded a lock of hair into the painting, something highly unusual. The mysterious painting came into the museum’s possession without record, and Yasmine becomes consumed by the secret concealed within this captivating work.
Meanwhile, at the close of the French Campaign in Egypt, sixteen-year-old Zeinab, the daughter of a prominent sheikh, is drawn into French high society when Napoleon himself requests her presence. Enamored by the foreign customs of the Europeans, she finds herself on a dangerous path, one that may ostracize her from her family and culture.
Seamlessly merging fiction with history, art, and politics, modern day Cairo with its opulent past, this compelling story of two women caught between worlds and entangled in matters of the heart launches an entrancing new literary voice.
Rasha Adly is an Egyptian writer, born in Cairo in 1972. She is the author of six novels in Arabic, and works as a researcher, journalist, and lecturer in the history of art. The Girl with Braided Hair was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (the “Arabic Booker”) in 2018 and is her first novel to be translated into English.
Sarah Enany is a literary translator and a professor in the English Department of Cairo University.
"Delightful . . . Adly’s inspired story of art and resistance to colonization hits the mark."—Publishers Weekly
"Adly has created a wonderful homage to Cairo's past and present. Her vibrant descriptions of the city in the 21st century and during the Napoleonic era bring its rich urban street scenes to life. Adly's novel also gives voice to Egypt's successful resistance against French colonization . . . Recommended"—Library Journal
"A must-read book set in Cairo"—Electric Literature
“Extraordinary. . . .From Ottoman palaces, battles and love stories, Adly’s novel is brilliantly detailed and complex."—Arab News
"Can be read with pleasure"—David Tresilian, Al-Ahram Weekly
“Rasha Adly, with skilled language and characterization, has sought a deep excavation of the relationship between power and art.”—Badiaa Zidan, Al-Ayyam
“Through the context of Egypt’s history during the French occupation, Adly dives into the interior life of a woman to present her feelings and desires, the conflict between her intellect and her emotions, her petty selfishness, and the relationship of these urges to collective suffering, with elements of tragedy that often accompany fierce love.” —Abdelrahman Ziada, Ahram
“The aura of historical places in Cairo, and a knowledge of art history are both reflected within the cosmos of the novel.”—al-Rai Media
"A multi-textured story of love, war, and the ruthlessness and privileges of the invader. Sarah Enany’s subtle and beautifully crafted translation is a wonderful vehicle through which to introduce readers to such a significant addition to the tradition of the Egyptian and Arabic novel."—Judges' comments, Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize