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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Did Egypt’s Novelists Inspire The Protests In Tahrir Square?

Egyptians review Arabic novels and poetry at the Cairo Book fair in Egypt in 2010. (AP)

Egyptians review Arabic novels and poetry at the Cairo Book fair in Egypt in 2010. (AP)

It took those huge crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to bring down former president Hosni Mubarak. But for many in that crowd, a key turning point came in 2003.

That’s when, as journalist Robyn Creswell writes in Harper’s Magazine, author Sonallah Ibrahim declined a major state award, saying, “we no longer have any theater, cinema, scientific research, or education… instead … corruption and robbery are everywhere … and whoever speaks out is interrogated, beaten, and tortured. “The government offering the award, Sonallah concluded, “lacks the credibility to bestow it.”

Robyn Creswell is a contributing writer at Harper’s Magazine and poetry editor of the Paris Review. We speak with him about Egyptian novelists before and after the Egyptian revolution.


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