By Rita Sakr (auth.)

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Extra resources for ‘Anticipating’ the 2011 Arab Uprisings: Revolutionary Literatures and Political Geographies

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1057/9781137294739 Writing Egypt’s ‘Tahrir’ 25 political, and economic histories of the larger Egyptian nation as they are imagined by contemporary novelists after the 1990s. Specifically, this chapter addresses the literary geography of ‘Tahrir’ in Cairo through five works published in the last 15 years. The starting point is Ahdaf Soueif ’s 1999 novel The Map of Love and her 2012 memoir Cairo: My City, Our Revolution since, as key works, they trace complementary literary visions that re-imagine the history of ‘Tahrir’ from proleptic and analeptic perspectives.

Just tell me for God’s sake: Is it OK for one party to rule the country forever? ([my translation] Salmawy, 2011, p. 29) Other characters in the novel articulate similar statements, including the young university students and Doha who undergoes a radical change and becomes drawn to al-Zainy both emotionally and ideologically. She is transformed in the process from an upper-middle class wife, whose encounters with the spaces of Cairo are mediated by her driver, into a committed protester engaged in marches and clashes against the security forces on Cairo’s streets and squares.

He is eventually arrested and tortured by the police in ways that al-Aswany has described extensively in his columns and that we will also encounter with striking detail in the following chapters. The fictional portrayal of the concomitant effect of human rights abuses by the police and increasing radicalization of Islamists on the political panorama of Egypt is highly relevant to the reality of intimidation, humiliation, and exploitation of the disempowered as well as the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists culminating in their post-2011 electoral gains and their effect on the constitution and the country.

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