From the<i>hara</i> to the <i>imara</i> Emerging urban metaphors in the literary production on contemporary Cairo<sup>1</sup>

Samia Mehrez

in Egypt's Culture Wars

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9789774163746
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970399 | DOI:
From thehara to the imara Emerging urban metaphors in the literary production on contemporary Cairo1

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Whereas the hara represented the well-ordered urban fabric of the old city, the imara has come to embody the contradictions of the global face of the mega-metropolis. This chapter looks at four Egyptian contemporary novels that offer complementary representations of the imara as an emerging urban metaphor. A close reading of these texts helps one to trace many of the changes in Cairo's urban fabric during the second half of the twentieth century. By examining four Egyptian novels of the 1990s—Sonallah Ibrahim's Dhat, Hamdi Abu Golayyel's Lusus mutaqa'idun (Thieves in Retirement), Alaa Al–Aswany's Imarat Ya'qubyan (Yacoubian Building) and Mohamed Tawfik's Tifl shaq ismuhu Antar (A Naughty Boy Called Antar)—the discussion maps out some of the new spatial and social forms of polarization within the mega-city.

Keywords: Egyptian literature; Naguib Mahfouz; Gammaliyya; Sonallah Ibrahim; mega-metropolis; polarization; Alaa Al–Aswany; Mohamed Tawfik

Chapter.  10085 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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