Zaat by Sonallah Ibrahim

On May 7th,2007 we discussed Sonallah Ibrahim’s novel Zaat, an ironic tale of the life of an Egyptian woman across the years.

Sonallah Ibrahim’s use of black humor reaches a crescendo in his 1992 novel Zaat, which follows the life of an Egyptian woman, Zaat, through the presidential eras of Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak. Interspersed with Zaat’s story is a montage of press extracts—headlines, news items, photo captions and advertisements—that capture ephemeral absurdities. In one, Mubarak is quoted as saying, “We should not be ashamed that there are poor people in Egypt. What we should do is work to make our country appear suitably civilized because we need to attract tourists.”

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