The Post-Mubarak Literary Scene


What is the state of Egyptian literature after the revolution? Under the dictatorial reign of Mubarak, the literary scene was stifled, plagued with heavy censorship, primarily existing in “pockets of activity”—one of which being the avant-garde publisher Merit, founded by Mohamed Hashem. He’s using this post-revolution climate to wrangle writers, collecting stories for an anthology of neophyte writers, describing their impressions of the revolution. This is one of the products of the “post-revolutionary pulp.” But, the current political climate and the experience of living through this has resulted in literature of all qualities (“gaudy tell-alls” and “speculative pop-histories,” etc).

“If Mubarak’s Egypt sanctioned an anodyne version of culture — imagine millions of watercolor pyramids — writers and artists of all bents are slowly chipping away at that image as they struggle over the meaning and memory of the revolution. The minister of culture has, tellingly, changed three times in recent months — each new minister assailed in turn for not being revolutionary enough.”

Sam Riley is an adult who works at McSweeney's. More from this author →