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Known and loved by readers and writers since first publication, now back in print as a Serpent's Tail Classic
Beer in the Snooker Club is one of the best novels about Egypt ever written. In the protagonist, Ram, a passionate nationalist who is nonetheless an anglophile, Waguih Ghali creates a hero who is tragic, funny and sympathetic. Through him we are presented with an authentic and acutely observed account of Egyptian society at a time of great upheaval
A plainspoken writer of consummate wryness, grace and humor, the Egyptian author chronicles the lives of a polyglot Cairene upper crust, shortly after the fall of King Farouk and thoroughly unprepared to change its neo-feudal ways...This is the best book to date about post-Farouk Egypt
This is a wonderful book. Quiet, understated, seemingly without any artistic or formal pretentions. Yet quite devastating in its human and political insights... if you want to convey to someone what Egypt was like in the forties and fifties, and why it is impossible for Europeans or Americans to understand, give them this book. It makes The Alexandria Quartet look like the travel brochure it is
I sat on a terrace overlooking the Nile and began to read. I was so captivated that I stayed up late into the night, reading the book in one sitting. Yet while the words were quickly consumed, the world they conjured and the issues they raised - of exile and belonging - have stayed with me through the years ... When I first read Beer in the Snooker Club I was struck by how different it was from any other Egyptian novel I knew. While Ghali was at work on this fresh, bright novel that wears its seriousness so lightly, Naguib Mahfouz, just a couple of years off being elected a Nobel laureate, was still trying to recreate the great nineteenth century English novel, dressed up in Egyptian clothes ... When I first appeared in Cairo with my copy, an Egyptian writer begged to buy it and then asked me to find ways of sending him more copies: "Everyone wants to read it, " he explained, "because it is such a sharp portrait of our country." I have just read the book for the fourth time and what now strikes me is not the book's political credentials but the pleasure to be had in the presence of its wonderful hero/narrator. In Ram, Ghali has created a very Egyptian version of a character familiar from Salinger's Catcher in the Rye@ a young man trying to square dreams and idealism with the realities of the world around him. It is impossible not to sympathise with his predicament. It is also impossible, for me at least, not to be swept along by the deceptive ease of the storytelling, by its pace and sheer skill.
Ghali's novel reproduces a cultural state of shock with great accuracy and great humor
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