The Hashish Waiter

Khairy Shalaby
Translated by Adam Talib


Buy The Hashish Waiter
Where to buy

Tucked away in a rundown quarter, just out of sight of fashionable downtown Cairo, a group of intellectuals gather regularly to smoke hashish in Hakeem’s den. The den is the center of their lives, both a refuge and a stimulus, and at the center of the den is the remarkable man who keeps their hashish bowls topped up—Rowdy Salih.
While his former life is a mystery to his loyal clientele of writers, painters, film directors, and even window dressers, each sees himself reflected in Salih; but without his humor, humility, or insight, or his occasional passions fueled by hootch. And when the nation has to face its own demons during the peace initiative of the 1970s, it is Rowdy Salih who speaks for them all.
This is a comic novel with a broken heart very like Salih himself, whose warm rough voice calls out long after we have recovered from the novel’s painful conclusion.


“The Hashish Waiter provides an entertaining read as well as a new- old lens on life in contemporary Egypt."—Lynx Qualey, Al Masry Al Youm English Edition

“The Hashish Waiter has action and plot aplenty. It is also a fascinating visit to a world about which the Michelin Green Guide has been sadly silent.”—Rain Taxi



Khairy Shalaby

Khairy Shalaby (1938–2011) was born in Kafr al-Shaykh in Egypt’s Nile Delta. He wrote seventy books, including novels, short stories, historical tales, and critical studies. His novel The Lodging House was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2003, and was published in English translation by the AUC Press in 2006.

Adam Talib is assistant professor in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations at the American University in Cairo, and is the translator of Mekkawi Said's Cairo Swan Song (AUC Press, 2009).

Find out more
  • January 30th 2016
  • $19.95 / £12.95 / LE100
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9789774167386

© American University in Cairo Press 2023|Website made by Bookswarm