The Zafarani Files

Gamal al-Ghitani
Translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab


Buy The Zafarani Files
Where to buy

An unknown observer is watching the residents of a small, closely-knit neighborhood in Cairo’s old city, making notes. The college graduate, the street vendors, the political prisoner, the café owner, the taxi driver, the beautiful green-eyed young wife with the troll of a husband—all are subjects of surveillance. The watcher’s reports flow seamlessly into a narrative about Zafarani Alley, a village tucked into a corner of the city, where intrigue is the main entertainment, and everyone has a secret. Suspicion, superstition, and a wicked humor prevail in this darkly comedic novel. Drawing upon the experience of his own childhood growing up in al-Hussein, where the fictional Zafarani Alley is located, Gamal al-Ghitani has created a world richly populated with characters and situations that possess authenticity behind their veils of satire.


"An incredibly funny, inventive novel. . . What most intrigues me about this novel is the knitting together of the various characters and stories. Gamal al-Ghitani creates a wonderful, lively world that is more ironic, funny, and verbally dazzling than any other contemporary Arabic book that I’ve read in recent years."--Chad Post, Three Percent

Praise for Zayni Barakat: "A gripping, unforgettable work of prose fiction. It displays its author's originality of conception and execution at every step."--Edward Said, in his Foreword to the book

Praise for Zayni Barakat: "Whether read as a colorful evocation of past times or as a bleak political parable, Zayni Barakat succeeds brilliantly."--Robert Irwin, Times Literary Supplement

Praise for Pyramids Texts: "The experience of reading al-Ghitani's Pyramid Texts leaves you feeling spellbound."--Al-Ahram Hebdo

Praise for Pyramids Texts: "A beautiful and tantalizing work."--Juan Goytisolo, author of State of Siege



Gamal al-Ghitani

Gamal al-Ghitani, born in 1945, is the author of Zayni Barakat (AUC Press, 2004), The Mahfouz Dialogs (AUC Press, 2007), Pyramid Texts (AUC Press, 2007), and The Book of Epiphanies (AUC Press, 2012). He was editor-in-chief of the literary review Akhbar al-adab until 2011.

Farouk Abdel Wahab was Ibn Rushd Professorial Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Chicago. He was the translator of many works of Arabic fiction, including Gamal al-Ghitani’s The Book of Epiphanies (AUC Press, 2012) and Hala El Badry's Rain over Baghdad (AUC Press, 2014). He won the 2007 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of The Lodging House, by Khairy Shalaby (AUC Press pbk, 2008). He died in 2013.

Find out more
  • May 1st 2015
  • $19.95 / £12.99 / LE80
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9789774166945
  • Also available as: eBook

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