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.