Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Review

The Revenge Of Instinct (إنتقام غريزة) by Islam Nada: Islam Nada is proving to be a rising star in the Egyptian Mystery/Sci-Fi genre. This is the second book of his that I’ve had the chance to read, and I have to say that, now, I am officially a fan of his work, as The Revenge Of Instinct (despite having a very weird title) is a solid collection of genre-hopping short stories that have one thing in common: the element of suspense.

In his introduction, Nada acknowledges Egyptian writer Ihsan Abd El Qodoos and Agatha Christie as influences. Well, it definitely shows, as the stories deal with everything from rape, to insanity, to puzzling murders, to government corruption , to faith, to aliens, you name it! Although some stories are better written than others (A Second Chance is especially silly and preachy), the majority of the tales are well-crafted, high on readability – mainly due to Nada’s smooth and straightforward prose – and, most importantly, hugely entertaining.

Highlights include the title story, a psycho-sexual tale that is reminiscent of Ihsan Abdel Qodoos’s work; Homesickness and The Mother, two extremely short stories with clever twist endings and which bring to mind the short stories of Daphne Du Maurier; Ravings, a taut, suspenseful tale with a brilliant twist; The Hero, a darkly comic crime tale; and the closing story A Murder On The Catwalk, an entertaining and meticulously crafted Agatha Christie/Arthur Conan Doyle pastiche.

Reading this collection, I was amazed by how ambitious and well-crafted these stories are, and Nada’s love for the psychological suspense and whodunit genres is obvious and admirable, as I can only think of a handful of contemporary Arab writers who dabble in this kind of fiction, most of them unsuccessfully. And even though Nada is still finding his voice, this is a fine collection of stories that is an easy read and a perfect book for a rainy night.

Available from Dar Al Kotob here.

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