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The Heron

One long winter night, the Cairo neighbourhood of Kit Kat stands at a crossroads. Poised like herons fishing on the banks of the Nile, the characters of this novel wait and watch as opportunities swim by past their reach. Some gaze on as their local cafe is stolen before their eyes. One studies how the nouveaux riches of the Open Door Policy make their money, while others try their own hand at swindling. Still others read the empty rhetoric of state-run newspapers and wonder what it all means. It is long past midnight; some walk, some sit and smoke, and all are trading stories. A young artist waits by himself for a girl, a drink, or a revolution. All are waiting for what the next day might bring. on the eve of the January 1977 bread riots against IMF austerity programmes and privatisation that nearly brought down President Anwar Sadat, The Heron catches Egypt in the mid-stream of its modern history. Since it first appeared in 1984, Ibrahim Aslan s novel has been a classic of Arabic Literature.

Ibrahim Aslan was born in Tanta in Egypt s Nile Delta in 1937 and is culture editor in the Cairo bureau of the Londonbased daily newspaper al-Hayat. He published his first collection of short stories in 1971. The Heron, his first novel, was published in Arabic in 1983. He is also the author of Nile Sparrows (AUC Press, 2004).

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