In a world with no meaning, meaning is an act . . . This is a story about building things up and knocking them down. Here are the campfire tales of Egypt’s dispossessed and disillusioned, the anti-Arabian Nights. Our narrator, a rural immigrant from the Bedouin villages of the Fayoum, an aspiring novelist and construction laborer of the lowest order, leads us down a fractured path of reminiscence in his quest for purpose and identity in a world where the old orders and traditions are powerless to help. Bawdy and wistful, tragicomic and bitter, his stories loop and repeat, crackling with the frictive energy of colliding worlds and linguistic registers. These are the tales of Cairo’s new Bedouin, men not settled by the state but permanently uprooted by it. Like their lives, their stories are dislocated and unplotted, mapping out their quest for meaning in the very act of placing brick on brick and word on word.
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