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234 × 156 mm
232 pages
Paperback with flaps
36 illustrations
01 May 2004
  • £24.95

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Cairo City of Sand Maria Golia

Cairo is a 1,400-year-old metropolis whose streets are inscribed with sagas, a place where the pressures of life test people’s equanimity to the very limit. Virtually surrounded by desert, sixteen million Cairenes cling to the Nile and each other, proximities that colour and shape lives. Packed with incident and anecdote Cairo: City of Sand describes the city’s given circumstances and people's attitudes of response. Apart from a brisk historical overview, this book focuses on the present moment of one of the world’s most illustrious and irreducible cities.

Cairo steps inside the interactions between Cairenes, examining the roles of family, tradition and bureaucracy in everyday life. The book explores Cairo’s relationship with its ‘others’, from the French and British occupations to modern influences like tourism and consumerism. Cairo also discusses characteristic styles of communication, and linguistic mêmes, including slang, grandiloquence, curses and jokes.

Cairo exists by virtue of these interactions, synergies of necessity, creativity and the presence or absence of power. Cairo: City of Sand reveals a peerless balancing act, and transmits the city’s overriding message: the breadth of the human capacity for loss, astonishment and delight.

‘a magnificent, multidimensional, eloquent and, above all, intelligent portrait of one of the world's most enigmatic places.’ – Sunday Times

‘packed full of observations of enduring worth . . . She writes with wit, immediacy, intimacy and humor.’ – Times Literary Supplement

‘Well-researched, reflective . . . Golia crams her book with anecdotes and personal experience, giving us an intimate picture of an inimitable, modern city.’ – The Good Book Guide

‘I was half way through Golia's book [when] the enormity of the challenges faced by the ordinary Cairene . . . struck me, a Cairene, full force.’ – Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo

‘Is it possible for a foreigner living in Cairo, even for many years, to know the soul of this city? . . . you will be astonished when you read Maria Golia's book.’ – Sabah El-Kher magazine, Cairo

‘the extent of Golia's insider status really shows . . . not just regarding matters specific to Cairo, but to matters of Egyptian-ness in general.’ – Beirut Daily Star

‘astonishingly astute, skillfully critical and deeply empathetic.’ –Daily Star, Egypt

‘written with compassion and understanding in brisk descriptions sprinkled with shrewd insights.’ – Middle East Journal

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Maria Golia writes fiction and non-fiction, and is the author of Photography and Egypt (Reaktion, 2009). She has lived in Rome, Paris and Fort Worth, Texas, and is a long-time resident of Cairo.