The Magnificent Conman of Cairo: A Novel
In this underrated piece of Arab literature, we follow the lives of Khaled and Mallim, two young men from vastly different Egyptian social classes whose lives are completely changed after a chance encounter and an unnecessary misunderstanding. Their stories unfold in an ironic twist ending against the background of social and political upheavals that defined the early-20th-century Kingdom of Egypt. Waleed Almusharaf translated Kamel’s witty dialog so masterfully from the original Arabic that the characters come alive and become personally felt. Interestingly, one could postulate that the protagonist Khaled was somewhat inspired by Kamel’s life, as both are lawyers with diverging personal interests. For Kamel it’s literature, and for Khaled it’s revolution. The Magnificent Conman of Cairo was originally published in 1942 to little fanfare in Egypt. However, in the modern day, this novel is the perfect quarantine book for Arab and non-Arab readers alike.