A Cloudy Day on the West Side Muhammad Al-Mansi Qindeel book reviews

Dar Al-Shorouk, Cairo, 2009

A Cloudy Day on the West Side Muhammad Al-Mansi Qindeel book reviews

Egyptian novelist Muhammad Al-Mansi Qindeel was born in 1946 in the Egyptian delta city of al-Mahalla al-Kubra, where his father was employed. His first novel, Breaking of the Spirit, was inspired by events surrounding workers’ unrest in the city. A medical school graduate, he worked as a doctor in the countryside before dedicating himself to writing. He currently lives in Kuwait, where he works as an editor for monthly magazine Al-Arabi. He has won two awards for his writing, the State Incentive Award in 1988 and the Sawiris Foundation Award in 2006. He has published several novels, short story collections and children’s books and his most famous novel Moon over Samarkand has been published in English by the American University in Cairo Press.

In his novel A Cloudy Day on the West Side, Al-Mansi Qindeel evokes the period of great archeological discovery and nationalist struggle in Egypt. The novel tells the story of a young girl taken from home by her mother when she is forced to flee her abusive husband. After changing her name and fastening a crucifix around her tiny arm, the mother leaves her daughter at a village in Asyut. The fate of the girl, who grows up to become a translator, intersects with that of a number of historical figures from the period, including Howard Carter, Lord Cromer and Abdulrahman al-Rifa’i. This thrilling tale is brought to life by the author’s detailed and vivid descriptions of real historical events and places.

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