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Cairo ContestedGovernance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity$
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Diane Singerman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9789774162886

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162886.001.0001

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From the Hara to the ‘Imara

From the Hara to the ‘Imara

Emerging Urban Metaphors in the Literary Production on Contemporary Cairo1

(p.145) 5 From the Hara to the ‘Imara
Cairo Contested

Diane Singerman

American University in Cairo Press

This chapter argues that the Egyptian literati, particularly through fiction, have played a very important role “vis-à-vis the collectivity as underground historians of the city whose narratives participate in the construction of an imagined community and a national imaginary”. In particular, it looks at four Egyptian contemporary novels — Sonallah Ibrahim's Dhat, Hamdi Abu Golayyel's Lusus mutaqa'idun, Alaa Al Aswany's 'Imarat Ya'qubyan, and Mohamed Tawfik's Tifl shaqi ismuhu 'Antar — that offer complementary representations of the 'imara as an emerging urban metaphor. The four novels report the developments that have taken place over the past fifteen years in the very representation of the city through the novel as a literary genre. It specifically describes the march of demolition and construction and the journey to the underworld. It also explains the postcolonial Yacoubian building, the murder on the Nile and the Tower of Babel.

Keywords:   hara, 'imara, Dhat, Lusus mutaqa'idun, 'Imarat Ya'qubyan, Tifl shaqi ismuhu 'Antar, Nile, Tower of Babel, urban metaphor

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