Tag Archives: Egypt

Book Review: Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf

First publisLeo the Africanhed 25 years ago, Leo Africanus (also called Leo the African) is a timeless, captivating classic. It is based on the true life of Hasan Al-Wazzan, the 16th century traveler and writer, who explored and travelled the Mediterranean throughout his life time. He witnessed the fall of Granada, the blossoming of Fez, the Ottoman conquest of Egypt and Renaissance in Rome. It is divided into four parts: The book of Granada, the book of Fez, The book of Cairo and finally, the book of Rome. Yet this is not a dry historical novel, it is a masterful piece of history inspired by the real-life Al-Wazzan. The history is accurate and the character real, but read like fiction…it is a mix of adventure, travel, exotic tales, war, love and self-discovery. Amine Maalouf truly captures the zeitgeist of what it was like to live and exist in the Arab world over 500 years ago… 

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Book Review: Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

This is a beautiful novel that flows between Egypt and Europe, written with lyrical prose. Matar is a phenomenal writer who manages to describe profound emotions in little words. It is the story of a young boy, Nouri who loses his mother at a young age. He soon meets Mona, on a beach in Alexandria while alone on holiday with his father. Mona, who is later to become his step mother, is a young and mesmerizing woman, who he feels extremely drawn to. However, after his father, a respectable and influential man in Egypt gets kidnapped while on business in Switzerland, he and Mona are left to piece together this sudden disappearance, changing their relationship forever. However, this is not a mystery novel, albeit the air of mystery is prevalent throughout. It is a journey the reader goes through with Nouri, exploring relationships, the meaning of loyalty, and ultimately life. It is a story filled with emotion.  Each character is so compelling, it is hard not to be drawn into this novel. Consumed with innocence, love and the unveiling of secrets. Matar, who was nominated for the Man Booker Prize for his novel, In the Country of Men, is an extremely impressive writer who does not disappoint in this magical piece of fiction.

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