Nile Sparrows

Ibrahim Aslan
Translated byMona El-Ghobashy

Set in the author’s own Nile-side neighborhood of Warraq, Aslan’s second novel, the first to be translated and published in English, chronicles th

English edition
1 March 2009
128 pp.
12.5X20cm
ISBN 9789774162404
For sale worldwide

$14.95

Set in the author’s own Nile-side neighborhood of Warraq, Aslan’s second novel, the first to be translated and published in English, chronicles the daily rhythm of life of rural migrants to Cairo and their complex webs of familial and neighborly relations over half a century. It opens with the mysterious disappearance of the tiny grandmother, Hanem, who is over 100 years old and is last seen by her daughter-in-law Dalal. Dalal does not have the heart to tell Hanem that her grown children Nargis and Abdel Reheem have both been dead for some time. Her grandson Mr. Abdalla, who has children of his own and not a few flecks of gray in his hair, reluctantly sets out for their home village to search for her, embarking on a bittersweet odyssey into his family’s past and a confrontation with his own aging. In an elliptical narrative, Aslan limns a series of vignettes that mimic the workings of memory, moving backward and forward in time and held together by a series of recurrent figures and images. There is Abdalla’s father, the tragic al-Bahey Uthman; his quirky and earthy uncle Abdel Reheem; and his sweet mother, Nargis, who dies with her simplest desires unfulfilled. Aslan’s moving portrait of the quotidian dramas that constitute the lives of ordinary Egyptians is untainted by populist pretensions or belittling romanticism, and full of the humor and heartbreaking pathos that have become trademarks of the author’s style.

Ibrahim Aslan

Ibrahim Aslan was born in Tanta in Egypt’s Nile Delta in 1937 and was culture editor in the Cairo bureau of the London-based daily newspaper al-Hayat. He published his first collection of short stories in 1971. The Heron, his first novel, was published in Arabic in 1983. He is also the author of Nile Sparrows (AUC Press, 2004). Elliott Colla teaches comparative literature at Brown University. His book Conflicted Antiquities is a study of the figures of Egyptian antiquities in European travel writing, museum discourses, and modern Egyptian literature.
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