Egypt Literature and Cinema

Literature. – Egyptian literature of the 21st century. is characterized by the overlapping of different generations of authors who, together, merged into the great movement of political dissent that led to the revolution of January 25, 2011. Some novelists of the Ǧīl al-Sittīnāt (Generation of the Sixties) have returned to the limelight anticipating the events that changed the history of the country. These include Ṣun῾allāh Ibrāhīm (b.1937) who, in 2003, refused the prize awarded to him by the state for the novel Amrīkānlī (2003, American) as a sign of protest against the pro-US government policy during the war against the Irāq and, in 2005, participated in the opposition movement Writers and artists for change. His other novels are al-Talaṣṣuṣ (2007, Theft), al-῾Amāmah wa al-qub῾ah (2008, The turban and the hat), al-Qānūn alfaransī (2008, The French code), al-Ǧalīd (2011 , Ghiaccio), Berlin 69 (2014) in which Egyptian history is related to the great moments of world history.

Bahā᾽ Ṭāhir (b.1935) belongs to the same generation, who received the IPAF (International Prize for Arabic Fiction) in 2008 for Wāḥat al-ġurūb (2007, The Sunset Oasis) set in the 19th century. at the beginning of the British occupation of the country. The protagonist is an officer condemned for his sympathies towards nationalist revolutionaries, with evident references to the Egypt of Muḥammad Ḥusnī Mubārak. Other important exponents of the Egyptian novel are ῾Alā᾽ al-Aswānī (v.), Ḫayrī Šalabī (1938-2011), who painted the slums of Cairo with sarcasm and humanity in the style of popular epics in the novels Wikālat ῾Aṭiyyah (2007, The caravanserai of Wikalat ῾Atiyyah) and Isṭāsiyah (2010, Istasia); Radwà ῾Āšūr (1946-2014), whose most recent works are Qiṭ᾽ah min Urubbā (2003, A piece of Europe), al-Ṭanṭūriyyah (2010, The woman of Tantura) and Aṯqal min Raḍwà. Maqāṭi῾ min sīrah ḏātiyyah (2013, Heavier than Radwa. Fragments of an autobiography); and Yusuf Zaydan (n. 1956), Philosophy of Islamic scholar, which he received in 2009 for the IPAF Azāzīl (trad. it. Azazel, 2010) on the persecution of pagans by Christians in Egypt in the 5th century. AD, followed by al-Nabaṭī (2005; transl. it. Nabatao, the scribe, 2011), Maḥāl (2013; trans. it. Seven places, 2014) and Guantanamo (2013) in which the pre-Islamic era joins recent history.

These authors are superimposed on the Ǧīl al-Tis῾īnāt (The generation of the Nineties), oppressed by the regime and by the Islamization of society, whose protagonists are Muṣṭafà Ḏikrī (b. 1966), Muntaṣir al-Qaffāš (b. 1964), the writers Mayy al-Tilmisānī (b.1965), Mirāl al-Ṭaḥāwī (b.1968), Nūrā Amīn (b.1970), Sumayah Ramaḍān (b.1951), Manṣūrah ῾Izz al-Dīn (b.1976), as well as Ibrāhīm al-Farġālī (b. 1967), author of Abnā᾽ al-Ǧabalāwī (2009, The sons of al-Giabalawi), and Ḥamdī Abū Ǧulayl (b. 1967), who wrote Luṣūṣ Mutaqā῾idūn ( 2002, Retired Thieves) and al-Fā῾il (2008, The Subject). A common feature of these authors is the attention to the individual dimension of existence and the feeling of closure towards society and its institutions. The most representative writers of the last phase of Egyptian fiction are Aḥmad al-῾Āydī (b. 1974), author of An takūn ῾Abbās al-῾Abd (2003; transl. It. Being Abbas Al-Abd, 2009), in which gives a voice to a youth living in perennial conflict with society that has become more violent since 11 September; Yūsuf Rāḫā (b.1976), who published Kitāb al-Ṭuġrà (2011, The Book of the Seal) a week after the fall of Mubārak, a reflection on the decadence of the Arab-Islamic civilization and prophetic vision of the revolution, followed by al -Tamāsīḥ (2012, The crocodiles), the story of a group of intellectuals too focused on themselves to understand what was about to happen to the country. Nā᾽il al-Ṭūḫī (b.1978) outlines a hypothesis on the future of Egypt in Nisā᾽ al-Karantīnā (2013, The women of al-Karantina), in which several generations of criminals try to take over the city of Alexandria in order to subject it to their own value system. In the Egypt pre- and post-revolutionary the noir genre was reborn thanks to Aḥmad Murād (b. 1978) who published Fīrtīǧū (2007; trad. it. Vertigo, 2012), Turāb al-mās (2009; trad. it. Diamond dust, 2013), al-Fīl al-Azraq (2012, The blue elephant), in which he portrays the Egyptian youth fighting against corruption. The poem has lost the popular singer Aḥmad Fu᾽ādNaǧm (1929-2013), collaborator of the composer Šayḫ Imām, known for his patriotic and revolutionary verses. His legacy was collected by Muṣṭafà Ibrāhīm (b. 1986), author of the collection al-Mānīfistū (2013, Il manifesto), in which he compares the killing of young revolutionaries in 2011 with the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of the prophet Muḥammad, which took place in 680.

Cinema. – Egyptian cinematography was, from the 1930s, a point of reference for the African continent and, more widely, for the Near and Middle East for its extensive production and for its ability to combine popular and author requests. The sixties saw a renewal of languages, but always in the name of continuity with the past. Since the early 2000s, the most representative filmmakers have explored new narrative and formal paths. For many of them, the use of digital has made it possible to tell the relevant social and political changes with a freer and more immediate look, a writing capable of intertwining elements of fantasy and documentaries.

Ibrahim el Batout and Ahmad Ab-dalla were the two most representative directors of Egyptian cinema of the last ten years. After making his debut with Ithaki (2005), a low-budget and improvisational work with performers, el Batout observed the harsh reality of a poor neighborhood in Cairo in Ein Shams (2008, known as Eye of the sun), while in Hawi (2010), shot in Alexandria, and in El sheita elli fat (2012, The winter of discontent) he brought to the screen stories of restless characters at the dawn of the riots against power. With El ott (2014, Il gatto), has pushed his cinema towards metropolitan noir. Abdalla too has described urban places with precision since his debut film Masr el gedida (2009, known as Heliopolis), a choral work set over the course of a day. The idea and practice of an inventive independent cinema were confirmed by the following Microphone (2010), a portrait of the new generation of Alexandria artists and musicians, and Farsh wa ghata (2013, known as Rags & Tatters), on contrasts social and religious in Cairo after the riots in Taḥrīr square. Decor (2014) is instead a tribute to the golden age of Egyptian cinema of the 1940s and 1950s.

According to Behealthybytomorrow, some established directors have augmented their filmographies with meaningful titles using melodrama to denounce social issues: Khaled el Hagar in El shooq (2011, Lust), Yusri Nasrallah in Baad el mawkeaa (2012, After the battle), Mohamed Khan in Fatat el masnaa (2013, known as Factory girl). Two very different debut films should be mentioned: Imarat Yaqubyan (2006, Palazzo Yacoubian) by Marwan Hamed, the most expensive film in Egyptian cinema, starring Adel Imam, and Al-khoroug lel-nahar (2012, Day by Day) by Hala Lotfy, in which the director constructs a family drama with essential direction. Another filmmaker, Jehane Noujaim, made Al midan (2013; The Square – Inside the revolution), nominated for an Oscar as best documentary in 2014.

Egypt Cinema