Selected Categories

In Depth - Revolution / Counter-Revolution

In Depth - The Nile

In Depth - The Desert

In Depth - Urban Egypt


Coming Home to the Counter-Revolution

For Granta magazine - A weird relationship with a wondrous city gets weirder still

Coming home to Cairo always starts with a lie, and this time was no exception.

The price of a taxi from the airport dwindles with each stride taken past the exit doors of the baggage hall and the stale, harried officers who guard them; those nabbed by touts at the outset pay top dollar for a limousine service that features no limousines, while the real bargains are to be found out beyond the terminal building where the air is coarse and mucky and the night slams up hot against your skin. You need a bit of guile to get there, though. My usual tactic is to chatter animatedly to no one on my mobile; I try and put on a real ensemble performance, all phatic fakery and apologetic grimaces to anyone who endeavours to catch my attention along the way. ‘Ya brince!’ I yell into the void. ‘I’ve just arrived, bring the car round!’ Sometimes I pile on so much comradely slang in an effort to sound authentic that I get tangled up and trip over my words, momentarily confused by the silence at the other end of the phone...

A major long read for Granta magazine on how one writer's sense of belonging in the Egyptian capital - messy, personal and problematic - has been complicated by the counter-revolution. The full essay is available in print (in Granta issue 140) and online (to Granta subscribers only).

-Published in Granta
-August 2017