A police officer tortures one last suspect in the most important assignment of his career: to find the ultimate Truth… A woman confesses her love to a reclusive, masked man in a video rental shop… A disgraced doctor confronts a man whose job it is to create rumours that spread across Cairo… Founded over a thousand years ago under the sign of Mars “the victorious”, Cairo has long been a welcoming destination for explorers and tourists, drawn by traces of the ancient cities of Memphis and Heliopolis. More recently, the Egyptian capital has become a city determined to forget. Since 2013, the events of the Arab Spring have been gradually erased from its official history. The present is now contested as writers are imprisoned, publishing houses raided, and independent news sites shut down. With a new Administrative Capital being built in the desert east of Cairo, the city s future is also unclear. Here ten new voices offer tentative glimpses into Cairene life, at a time when writing directly about Egypt s greatest challenges is often too dangerous. With intimate views of life, tinged with satire, surrealism, and humour, these stories guide us through the slums and suburbs, bars and backstreets of a city haunted by an unspoken past. Translated by Adam Talib, Raphael Cohen, Basma Ghalayini, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Raph Cormack, Andrew Leber, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Elisabeth Jaquette, Kareem James Abu-Zeid & Yasmine Seale.
Hatem Hafez (b. 1974) is a writer, academic, translator and journalist. He has written 8 plays and one novel, Because Things Happen (2009). The story featured here is from his first collection of short stories, Biscuit and Molasses. His second collection of short stories was published in 2017. Hafez has won several dramatic prizes, including the Best Play at the Festival of Arabic Theatre in 1996 for the play The Final Act and the Fawzi Fahmy Prize for Drama from Cairo University in 2009.