‘The Book of Safety’ goes beyond the dystopian fiction label

In his recent review of Yasser Abdel Hafez’s novel The Book of Safety, translated by award-winning Robin Moger,  Matthew Chovanec praises the author for writing “a novel that is thoroughly committed to finding new ways to write about the nightmare of the present.”


At the same time, Chovanec, who holds a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, criticizes the bad habit of using flattening terms and words such as “dystopia,” “nightmarish,” and “gritty” to describe Arabic novels that address the horrors of totalitarian societies and oppressive bureaucracies. “It is not just pervasive, it is suffocating,” warns Chovanec.

“But it is not merely a lazy habit of Western critics who are not well read in Arabic’s own archive of dystopian fiction, or even in their own publications’ previous use of the term long before the Arab Spring,” notes Chovanec.

Read the complete review on The Sultan’s Seal blog (May 16, 2018).

Posted on 29/05/2018 in Dystopian, FICTION Alternative History, FICTION General, FICTION Political, tagged as Hoopoe, Hoopoe Fiction, Matthew Chovanec, review, Robin Moger, Sultan's Seal, The Book of Safety, translation, Yasser Abdel Hafez


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