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If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English  By  cover art

If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

By: Noor Naga
Narrated by: Amin El Gamal,Noor Naga
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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize, a lush experimental novel about love as a weapon of empire.  

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?

©2022 Noor Naga (P)2022 Recorded Books

What listeners say about If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

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Wow!

Honestly, I can't say anything about this book without spoiling and you deserve to get into it fresh.

Like I had some qualms about how Amin pronounces some arabic words but after going through all of it it all feels intentional and I love it.

Read it, listen to it, you'll love it!

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one of the most innovative endings I've ever seen

cannot recommend it enough! Noor Naga is brilliant & the audiobook is so well produced!

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  • N. Amin
  • 06-05-22

Gripping story well told. Note on the footnotes!

Gripping story, perceptive (and for me, relatable) observations of the two narrators on life in post-revolution Cairo, and the troubled social and gender dynamics between people from very different backgrounds. I loved the style and the language.
My one big annoyance was that - as an audiobook - the experimental footnotes used in the 2nd part were 1) very disruptive (you couldn’t just gloss over them as you might do if reading in print, and it was difficult to remember how the sentence even started!) and 2) very confusing (why were they suddenly making an appearance, explaining terms that were already used in Part 1, as well as terms that didn’t need a lengthy explanation? And why was some of the info they contained dubious??). The explanation for that comes in Part 3, which is fair enough, but a bit too late for the frustrated audiobook listener.
Performance-wise, Noor does a good job but my big praise is reserved for Amin El-Gamal who does a brilliant heartfelt job reading the male part.
Overall highly recommended, and not just for Egyptians who can relate!