By Rita Sakr (auth.)
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Extra resources for ‘Anticipating’ the 2011 Arab Uprisings: Revolutionary Literatures and Political Geographies
All of which are basic principles in any respectable political system. I call for what the people are demanding. I don’t have a communist or Islamist ideology. [ ... ] 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.
In her 11 February entry in Cairo, Soueif imagines Makram’s statue poetically coming alive: ‘The uplifted hand of Omar Makram’s statue blesses us all and so does the half-moon, further up, nestling – truly – in the fronds of a palm tree’ (2012, p. 170). The coming to life of monuments has been a common trope in the fictional depiction of historical crises in post-imperial and post-independence literatures from Salman Rushdie in Midnight’s Children and Shame to Orhan Pamuk in The Black Book and The New Life.
This extends from Mahfouz’s reflection on the micro-urban tensions of the early twentieth century, through al-Aswany’s and Soueif ’s highly significant portrayal of growing discontent and ‘anticipation’ of a climactic upheaval among a zoned and choked urban and rural poor population (but also among intellectuals) in the era of Mubarak, and finally to Soueif ’s later homage to a city that, at least for the 18 days of the 2011 ‘Revolution’, destroyed the social and political, horizontal and vertical divisions and walls that are depicted in the previous novels and revealed the potential of ‘Tahrir’ as, even if just intermittently, a liberated space and a liberating ethic.
‘Anticipating’ the 2011 Arab Uprisings: Revolutionary Literatures and Political Geographies by Rita Sakr (auth.)