Travel reading

I packed several books in Arabic when I left Cairo on vacation. While I haven't gotten that far with them, I'm greatly enjoying reading the classic "Maalak al Hazeen" (The Heron) by Ibrahim Aslan. I'd tried to read this book in English several years back and (as often happens to me when reading Arabic literature in translation) hadn't really gotten caught up in it--something in the language seemed stilted, a song drained of its rhythm. But this time around, in Arabic, I can appreciate all the novel's charm and humour, its nimble and inspired weaving of anecdotes and characters to give a picture of a neighborhood--Kit Kat--going through irreversible changes.

This is the novel that the classic film "Kit Kat" (a must-see) is based on. For an excellent in-depth discussion of Aslan's work, see this post by Baheyya.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.