Gamal al-Ghitani, Nader K. Uthman
By Gamal al-Ghitani
Translated by Nader K. Uthman
About the BookOne of Egypt's greatest contemporary writers reflects on life and love
This haunting memoir, written ten years before al-Ghitani’s death, weaves together a series of vignettes in a style that mimics the uneven, discontinuous nature of memory itself.
These fragments are summoned from across the span of a singular lifetime. We read of his childhood adventures, his erotic awakenings, his time as a political prisoner, and his reports from the battlefront in Iraq and the corridors of power in Syria. Vivid passages capture fleeting glances of strangers through car windows, flavors and scents of delicacies savored, dreams and sorrows of neighbors in the apartment blocks of Cairo before Nasser, as well as chance conversations at points of transit, in cafés, on elegant streets, and with unnamed paramours.
These memories, and al-Ghitani’s musings on memory’s own finitude and mutability, make Traces both a memoir and a meditation on memory itself, in all its inscrutable workings and inevitable betrayals.
“Traces is a recollection of the poignant passage of time and the visceral traces it leaves in memory. Al-Ghitani’s work arrives safe and sound on a foreign shore in this exquisite, sensitive, and beautiful translation.” —Sinan Antoon, author of The Book of Collateral Damage
“A novelist of vision and daring.” —Edward Said
"Al-Ghitani is one of modern Arabic literature's most prominent voices."—Chandrahas Choudhury, The National
"Succeeds brilliantly" —Robert Irwin, Times Literary Supplement on Zayni Barakat
"Beautiful and tantalizing" —Juan Goytisolo, author of State of Siege, on Pyramid Texts