From the <i>Hara</i> to the <i>‘Imara</i>

Diane Singerman

in Cairo Contested

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9789774162886
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970351 | DOI:
From the Hara to the ‘Imara

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This chapter argues that the Egyptian literati, particularly through fiction, have played a very important role “vis-à-vis the collectivity as underground historians of the city whose narratives participate in the construction of an imagined community and a national imaginary”. In particular, it looks at four Egyptian contemporary novels — Sonallah Ibrahim's Dhat, Hamdi Abu Golayyel's Lusus mutaqa'idun, Alaa Al Aswany's 'Imarat Ya'qubyan, and Mohamed Tawfik's Tifl shaqi ismuhu 'Antar — that offer complementary representations of the 'imara as an emerging urban metaphor. The four novels report the developments that have taken place over the past fifteen years in the very representation of the city through the novel as a literary genre. It specifically describes the march of demolition and construction and the journey to the underworld. It also explains the postcolonial Yacoubian building, the murder on the Nile and the Tower of Babel.

Keywords: hara; 'imara; Dhat; Lusus mutaqa'idun; 'Imarat Ya'qubyan; Tifl shaqi ismuhu 'Antar; Nile; Tower of Babel; urban metaphor

Chapter.  11431 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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