The Lady of Zamalek

A Novel

Ashraf El-Ashmawi
Peter Daniel

Spanning twentieth-century Egyptian history and opening with the true story of a prominent Cairo businessman’s murder, this rags-to-riches story won

English edition
11 May 2021
398 pp.
13X20.5cm
ISBN 9781649030764
For sale worldwide

$18.95

Spanning twentieth-century Egyptian history and opening with the true story of a prominent Cairo businessman’s murder, this rags-to-riches story wondrously combines real-life events with fiction, told by a “magical storyteller”

It was in the spring of 1927 that Cairo’s attention was captured by the shocking murder of prominent businessman Solomon Cicurel in his Nile-side villa in the upscale Zamalek district. It was a burglary that went wrong, and four culprits were soon arrested. Their trial was concluded swiftly, their punishments were decisive, and society breathed a sigh of relief.

In Ashraf El-Ashmawi’s telling, there was a fifth accomplice, Abbas, who fled to his home in the countryside to lay low until the murder trial blew over. However, he did not escape empty-handed and kept stolen documents from Cicurel’s villa, ones that he imagined would lead him to a hidden safe. Abbas hatched a plan to return to the capital, find the safe, and make his fortune. The first step was to place his sister Zeinab with Cicurel’s widow, Paula.

Abbas’s rags-to-riches story unfolds as a tale of modern Egypt, taking in the Second World War, the 1952 revolution and rise of Nasser, the 1967 war, and the Sadat and Mubarak eras. Spanning the 1920s to the 1990s, El-Ashmawi deftly weaves together history with fiction in this intriguing English-language debut.

Ashraf El-Ashmawi

Ashraf  El-Ashmawi is an Egyptian author, judge, and legal scholar who is a regular contributor to newspapers and online publications, writing about crime prevention and social issues. The author of nine critically received novels in Arabic, in 2013 he was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (the Arabic “Booker”) for his novel Toya, in 2014 he won best novel at the Cairo International Book Fair for Barman, and in 2019 he again won best novel at the Bahrain Cultural Forum for Sheepdogs. His books have been translated into French, German, Japanese, Italian, among other languages, and The Lady of Zamalek is his first novel to be translated into English.

Peter Daniel

Peter  Daniel, a longterm resident of Egypt, has worked as teacher of Arabic as a foreign language and an Arabic to English translator for many years.
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