Cairo Inside Out: Expanded Edition
By Trevor Naylor. Doriana Dimitrova, ph.
2019, AUC Press, 978-9-77416-922-9, $24.95 pb.
Reviewed by J. Trevor Williams on March 16, 2021
In Cairo Inside Out, author Trevor Naylor offers respite in the Egyptian capital’s architectural past, evoking the in-between places that anchor experiences in a metropolis marked by frenetic development and overlapping historical identities. It’s part coffee-table book and part city guide, with vivid color photos capturing light-filled foyers, Nile houseboats, elevated vistas, grand hotels and storied cafes. The “inside-out” framing situates the reader within the walls of landmarks like the Cafe Riche, Hotel Windsor and Ibn Tulun Mosque. Naylor’s historical commentary and practical advice on how to sail on a felucca or haggle in the alleyways of Khan al-Khalili complement the experiential quality in Doriana Dimitrova’s photography, captured over a year. Even the most cursory read inspires and equips prospective visitors. For Naylor, Cairo is a city not to be explored only for its current charms, but to be experienced by way of time travel to earlier points in its 1,000-year history, with buildings rather than people serving as his main cultural touchstones.