Cairo Swan Song

Mekkawi Said
Translated by Adam Talib


In the shadows of great wealth, and among Cairo’s famous monuments, runs a world of street children. Mustafa, a former student radical who never really believed in the slogans, sets out to tell their story through a documentary he is making with his American girlfriend, Marcia.
Alienated from a corrupt and corrupting society, Mustafa watches as the Cairo he cherishes crumbles around him. His former leftist comrades are now all either capitalists or Islamists, while his friends and acquaintances struggle to find lovers worthy of their love and causes worthy of their sacrifice, in a country that no longer deserves their loyalty. Meanwhile, the children of the streets wait for the city to take notice.
Cairo Swan Song weaves together a patchwork narrative of overlapping lives, dreams, and realities all centering on Cairo’s famous downtown neighborhood.


“A crafted mosaic of Egypt’s educated middle classes.”—The Independent



Mekkawi Said

Mekkawi Said (1955–2017) was an award-winning writer from Cairo. His first collection of short stories appeared in 1981, and his first novel won the Suad Sabbah Arab Creativity Prize in 1991. Cairo Swan Song was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (the “Arabic Booker”) in 2008.
With a PhD from Oxford University, Adam Talib is currently an assistant professor at Durham University. He is an award-winning literary translator and has translated, among others, Khairy Shalaby and Raja Alem.

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  • September 3rd 2019
  • $18.95 / £11.99 / LE250
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9789774169366

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