Tales from the Suq: Pictures and Stories from Real life of the People Who Live and Work in Egypt's Disappearing Urban Marketplaces
By Stephen Farley
2014, CreateSpace, 978-1-50057-446-8, $14.99 pb.
Reviewed by Robert W. Lebling on January 31, 2016
Stephen Farley is an Arizona photographer, state senator and activist. In 1983, he traveled to Cairo to spend a year. As a student at the American University in Cairo, he came to know a local marketplace or suq in Bnearby ab el-Louq. Here he captures in photos and stories his encounters with the fascinating people of the suq—a collection of food stalls and grocery shops, independently owned and gathered within the walls of what had once been a huge British munitions warehouse. Farley paints vivid profiles of the shop owners and workers, describing their relationships, both personal and mercantile. He depicts a moment in time, a glimpse of a distinctive neighborhood on the verge of passing into the annals of urban history. City life in Cairo has always been richly textured, gritty, filled with sounds and smells and raw kinetic energy. It has also been a vessel of human emotion, displaying the best and worst of humanity. Without exaggerating or over-dramatizing, Farley manages to show this captivating side of the legendary metropolis.