In post–Arab Spring Cairo, two unnamed characters meet and fall in love. She is a nostalgic daughter of Egyptian emigrants “returning” to a country she’s never been to before. He was a photographer of the revolution who is now unemployed and living in a rooftop shack. As their alternating perspectives unfold in blocks of taut poetic prose, their desire—for one another, for the selves they strive to become through the other—takes a violent turn.
A dark romance exposing the fraught fissures in American identity politics when exported overseas, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English is a lush postcolonial novel for the 21st century.
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