A CLOUDY DAY ON THE WESTERN SHORE
Author(s): Mohamed Mansi Qandil
Reviewed by: Abdullah Drury
Publisher: New York, Syracuse University Press, 2018, 380pp. ISBN: 9780815611097.
Originally published in Arabic as Yawm Gha’im fi al-Barr al-Gharbi in 2010, this book is a careful examination of the complex intersection of colonialism, gender, history, religious sectarianism, politics and social hierarchy, articulated through the perspective of an Egyptian heroine. In this masterpiece of literary insight and intelligence, author Mohamed Mansi Qandil strives to illuminate several issues and events of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century Egypt including archaeological excavations undertaken by British and European scholars and the intricacies of the Khedival government as power oscillated and transitioned from one faction to another.
In summary, a young Muslim girl named Aisha is smuggled away from her abusive step-father by her mother and posited in a Christian convent. She experiences tragedy and suffering, but also good fortune and good will. She encounters a British scholar and an unlikely bond evolves. Such a precis may sound like the unpromising start of a Harlequin romance novel but this