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Posts Tagged ‘Cairo’

The Case of the Arabic Noirs

August 20, 2014 | by

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Pocket Novels: The Exile, J. Kessel, 1940. “A Novel of Human Untruths, about a Russian woman and her princesses, in exile, from the pen of the great French writer J. Kissel,” presumably the French novelist and journalist Joseph Kessel (1898-1979).

Pocket Novels: The Corpse, Georges Simenon, 1946. “A quirky police tale,” according to the inside. Many popular fiction books were messily translated and repackaged, without bothering to credit the original text, author, or publisher. The artist of this cover, for instance, is not credited.

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Pocket Novels: Secret of Radium, Albert Dewar Nashton, 1943. “A police story of fantastic events written by the Briton, Albert Dewar Nashton.”

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Charmer of Women, Agatha Christie, 1979 pocket book edition.

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Mystery of a Woman, Agatha Christie, sold for thirty piasters, though undated.

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Crime in Iraq, Agatha Christie, undated. (Arabic version of Murder in Mesopotamia, with a different title). Christie’s husband, an archaeologist, took her on digs across the Middle East and the scenes frequently appear in her prose.

7.floozy

Floozy from Paris, R. Leonard (French), artist: Gasoor. From the back cover: “In this book: The life of a French prostitute…” Undated; set in 1942.

8.Sherlock

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Devilish Dog, undated. A translation of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

9.Bond

Dr. No: The Adventures of James Bond, drawings by Shawky Matooly, 1989. Ian Fleming gets no acknowledgment in this pocket edition for young adults, complete with simple line drawings of action scenes.

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The Fugitive: Lust for Murder, Dr. Richard Campbell, undated.

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Malicious Intent, Rashad Mohamed El-Essawy, undated. “Arabic stories from a new genre,” reads the inside cover.

12.Shackles

The Shackles of Sin, Georges Simenon, 1959. The backcover says the story is from the book, Four Days in a Lifetime, originally published in English in 1953.

13.Charade

Charade, Peter Stone, #346 in imprint/series “Novels of the World,” undated.

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Policeman’s Dread, John Creasey, “Novels of the World” #399, undated. Creasey (1908-1973) wrote some six hundred books under twenty-eight different noms de plume; at one stage he wrote thirty to forty books annually. There were hundreds of books from the “Novels of the World” series and myriad copies are gathering dust in Cairo archives and bookstands.

15.Impossible Man

The Impossible Man: The Black River, Nabeel Farouk, undated, likely from the eighties. Inside cover reads: “Police stories for youths, replete with sensational events.”

Cairo: the metal detector beeps. The security man wears a crisp white uniform. He nods and leans back in his chair. The lobby’s red oriental carpet, so worn it’s barely red, leads upstairs to the hotel tavern. Enter the glass doors, where a cat in a smart bow tie and vest reaches for a lonely bottle behind the bar. He takes his time; he’s been polishing glasses at the Windsor Hotel for thirty-eight years. Out the window, a motorcycle speeds through the dark alley. In 1893, this joint was ritzy—home to the royal baths, steps from the original Cairo Opera House. Tonight it’s dingy enough that Philip Marlowe might come here to tip a few back after clobbering some hoods. A fine joint in which to pore over pulp from the secondhand book market down the street.

It’s tempting to ponder the relevance of crime novels in contemporary Egypt. The 2011 revolution began on National Police Day as a revolt against the fuzz. When President Hosni Mubarak breezed off eighteen days later, the police dusted, too, leaving behind a Wild West. Gun sales skyrocketed, matched by holdups and carjackings. In the following two years, thugs ran Cairo’s streets. Ever since General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi ousted former President Mohammed Morsi last summer, the coppers have been back in full force. White uniformed police operate checkpoints littered throughout the capital like discarded Coke cans. Cabbies are so scared that they’ve started wearing seat belts. And now, as authorities attempt to restore law and order, the crime genre is making a comeback. Read More »

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When Poets Cook, and Other News

November 15, 2012 | by

  • “Few poets, it would seem, are willing to claim as favorite any old run of the mill standard recipe.” When poets cook.
  • Dream homes built for books and the nerds who love them.
  • The Institute of Egypt in Cairo, which suffered damage and losses last December, has been given four thousand rare books.
  • “The reason we decided to do handmade books, sewing them instead of having them stapled, is because we wanted to make durable books that would be precious. When you get a Crumpled Press book, you can feel that it was handmade by somebody, you can feel slight irregularities in it. It’s a precious object that you’re not going to throw away. So if I make 250 or 1,000 copies, those books are going to carry on.”
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    The Younger Fiancée; Studying Abroad in Cairo

    March 18, 2011 | by

    What is the best poetry anthology to give my father’s new, and much younger, fiancée at her bridal shower? —Rachel

    Dear Rachel,

    What a lovely, tricky question. I suppose it depends on how you feel about your mother-in-law-to-be, or how you’d like her to feel about you. Gifts, especially when they are books, say so much about the giver. In my experience the best anthologies are unapologetically personal. The pleasure of reading André Breton’s Anthology of Black Humor or Kingsley Amis’s The Amis Anthology is the pleasure of discovering the editor’s sensibility, refracted into a choice of readings. Great anthologies surprise us. They make connections we hadn’t noticed before. But these might not make ideal gifts for a bridal shower. Might I then suggest John Hollander’s Marriage Poems? Hollander is one of our finest anthologists—if the marriage results in any children, you might try finding The Wind and the Rain: An Anthology of Poems for Young Peopleand all his collections include pleasurable surprises.

    Alongside the epithalamia there is James Dickey’s “Adultery” (“Although we come together,/ Nothing will come of us. But we would not give/ It up”) and Swift’s “The Progress of Marriage,” about an elder gentleman and his much younger bride. (Be warned: it’s vicious.) In the same Everyman series is Meena Alexander’s excellent Indian Love Poems, which is exactly what it claims to be. Both books are small, elegant, and inexpensive.

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    Staff Picks: From Calcutta to Cairo

    February 4, 2011 | by

    Teddy Weatherford, right. Photograph courtesy of The Atavist.

    Read this fascinating story on The Atavist about Teddy Weatherford—the Count Basie of the East—who would perform on both sides of the Pacific in a white sharkskin suit. He died not long before the end of World War II, and at his funeral, forty thousand Calcuttans mourned his death. These days, he’s often not much more than a footnote in most jazz histories. —Thessaly La Force

    Jason Epstein has always been the most forward-looking of publishers. He invented the trade paperback, cofounded The New York Review of Books and the Library of America, and hit on the Amazon model—alas, before there was a Web. At eighty-three, he still explains the business better than anyone. If you want to know how publishing works—and why, increasingly, it doesn’t—read his latest in the Review. —Lorin Stein

    Straining to inject some topicality into my reading, I ferreted out a copy of Amitav Ghosh’s beguiling blend of travelogue, memoir, and anthropological study, In an Antique Land. Calcutta-born Ghosh moves to the Egyptian village of Lataifa where he researches the correspondence of a twelfth-century Jewish Tunisian merchant, while observing the daily lives of his contemporary Muslim neighbors. Although he recognizes the incongruity of his own presence, Ghosh crafts an elegant meditation on the wayward tracks left by history that emphasizes the long, whispered conversation between cultures over those noisier moments of confrontation. Next on the list: Border Passage by Leila Ahmed. —Jonathan Gharraie

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