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The Zafarani Files

An unknown observer is watching the residents of a small, closely-knit neighborhood in Cairo's old city, making notes. The college graduate, the street vendors, the political prisoner, the cafe owner, the taxi driver, the beautiful green-eyed young wife with the troll of a husband all are subjects of surveillance. The watcher's reports flow seamlessly into a narrative about Zafarani Alley, a village tucked into a corner of the city, where intrigue is the main entertainment, and everyone has a secret. Suspicion, superstition, and a wicked humour prevail in this darkly comedic novel. Drawing upon the experience of his own childhood growing up in al-Hussein, where the fictional Zafarani Alley is located, Gamal al-Ghitani has created a world richly populated with characters and situations that possess authenticity behind their veils of satire.

Gamal al Ghitani [is] now perhaps Egypt ’s leading novelist ’ wrote Robert Irwin in the TLS. He is the author of The Zafarani Files (Arabia Books, May 2009), Zayni Barakat (AUC Press, 2004) and The Mahfouz Dialogs (AUC Press, 2007) and has been awarded the Sheikh Zayed Award for Literature for his novel Rinn. Ghitani is the Editor-in-Chief of the Cairo literary review Akhbar aladab. His works are translated into several languages. He has previously been awarded the State Merit Novel Award.

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