In Cairo, I discovered Diwan Bookstore in Zamalek. It is a special bookstore featuring books in Arabic, English, French and German. When I entered, they had on display front and center their recommended books, among them:
- The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barak Obama
- Dreams from My Father: A True Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama in Arabic
- The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World by Sharon Waxman
- The Naqib’s Daughter by Samia Seregeldin
- The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
A bookstore is always a healthy reality check on society. Here the recommended reading list includes two books by a U.S. President (note one is in Arabic); a frequently banned or censored book in the US; a well-know Egyptian woman author; a book challenging the notion of who owns the antiquities; and, an Italian murder mystery set in the year 1327. The notion to include all of these books in one section is brilliant, in my opinion.
My personal favorites from this visit include:
- The Son of a Duck is a Floater by Primrose Arnander and Ashkhain Skipwith
- The Literature of Ancient of Egypt edited by William Kelly Simpson
Cairo is healthy, diverse, opinionated and educated.
Go visit Diwan Bookstore, enjoy their excellent selection of books and discover a new world of thinking over a cup of tea in their cafe.
Special note: Diwan Bookstore is on Facebook. Join them and read their latest news and special events.
By Keri Douglas, Washington, D.C.
I love the reality check by visiting local bookstores :o) But bare in mind that Diwan is a bookstore for middle/upper class Egyptians. So it reflects only a portion of the society (the ones who are wealthy enough to have had a good education).