Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Reviews

Book Review: Picasso's Fate ( مصير بيكاسو) by Mohamed Al 'Oun: Novels about writers are a dime a dozen; novels about Egyptian writers are few and mostly mediocre; good novels about Egyptian writers are almost non-existent. Therefore, Picasso's Fate by Mohamed El 'Awn should be cherished, read, then re-read. Yes, it's that good.

Revolving around the adventures of a lower/middle-class young man living in Cairo, his journey through several menial jobs, and his ambition to become a good writer, Picasso's Fate is an Egyptian novel of a rare breed. A novel that is deeply touching, realistic, funny, sad, yet ultimately uplifting, and one that lacks the bitter cynicism that seems to plague every other Egyptian novel about living in modern Cairo.

With good dialogue, believable characters, a compelling, straight-forward, almost minimalist style, this, the first novel by El 'Awn, promises good things to come from a new, singular, voice, and is one of the best novels about what being a writer in Egypt is really like. Highly recommended.

Book Review: The Genetic Maps Room ( حجرة الخرائط الجينية) by Islam Nada: Coming out of nowhere, this sweeping, fun, intelligent Science-Fiction novel for Young Adults is a treat. The plot - which revolves around a group of super-intelligent children genetically engineered to near-perfection, and chosen to live in a secret city that houses the world's greatest minds and works for the benefit of humanity - is high on imagination and takes place in a wonderfully appealing and thrillingly dangerous universe, integrating magic, djin, and demons into the Sci-Fi mix, and therefore delivering an entertaining Sci-Fi/fantasy epic for readers of all ages. Unmissable.

P.S. This novel is the first part of a trilogy, with the second installment (The Deadly Curse) already out!

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