Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

PRIZE NEWS:  frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and Yellow Rain by Mai Der Vang named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. More here

Book Title

If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

Subtitle
A Novel
Author 1
Noor Naga
Body
In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, an Egyptian American woman and a man from the village of Shobrakheit meet at a café in Cairo. He was a photographer of the revolution, but now finds himself unemployed and addicted to cocaine, living in a rooftop shack. She is a nostalgic daughter of immigrants “returning” to a country she’s never been to before, teaching English and living in a light-filled flat with balconies on all sides. They fall in love and he moves in. But soon their desire—for one another, for the selves they want to become through the other—takes a violent turn that neither of them expected.
 
A dark romance exposing the gaps in American identity politics, especially when exported overseas, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English is at once ravishing and wry, scathing and tender. Told in alternating perspectives, Noor Naga’s experimental debut examines the ethics of fetishizing the homeland and punishing the beloved . . . and vice versa. In our globalized twenty-first-century world, what are the new faces (and races) of empire? When the revolution fails, how long can someone survive the disappointment? Who suffers and, more crucially, who gets to tell about it?

Share Title

List Price
$16.00
ISBN
ISBN
978-1-64445-081-9
Format
Format
Paperback
Publication Date
Publication Date
Subject
Subject
Pages
Pages
208
Trim Size
Trim Size
5.5 x 8.25
Keynote
Winner of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize, a lush experimental novel about love as a weapon of empire

About the Author

Noor  Naga
Credit: Moataz Ibrahim
Noor Naga is an Alexandrian writer and the author of a verse novel, Washes, Prays. She is winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award, the RBC/PEN Canada Award, and the Disquiet Fiction Prize. She teaches at the American University in Cairo.
More by author

Praise

  • “At once romantic, complex, and ultimately tragic.”—Booklist
     
  • “Extraordinary.”—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Library Journal, starred review
  • “Naga impresses with her snappy prose . . . and has a gift for exploring varied perspectives. . . . This smart story is distinguished by its surprising empathy.”Publishers Weekly 
     
  • “A fascinating novel about class and abuse. . . . [Noor] Naga’s writing in the book’s first two parts is gripping, but the final section, metafictional and darkly funny, is an absolute master class. She deals with important issues with a gimlet eye and a rare sensitivity—it would be a massive understatement to call this novel a must-read. In a word: brilliant.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Back to Table of Contents