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Conspiracy in Modern Egyptian Literature

Benjamin Koerber

Paperback (Forthcoming)

Examines the diverse uses of conspiracy theory in Egyptian fiction over the last century

  • Provides the first critical study of conspiracy theory in Arabic literature
  • Examines work by authors who have received little critical attention in English (Youssef Rakha, Mohammad Rabie, Ahmed Naji)
  • Examines the recent “authoritarian turn” of some Egyptian authors
  • Contains an Arabic edition and partial translation of Naguib Surur’s infamous underground quatrains

Conspiracy theory in the Arab World has come to be associated with the rhetoric of Islamist extremists and authoritarian regimes. Yet its principle tropes – omnipotent secret societies, impending apocalypse, heroes who crack codes – have recurred in Arabic literature as well. A number of Egyptian authors, including Ali Ahmad Bakathir, Naguib Surur, Sonallah Ibrahim, Gamal al-Ghitani, and Youssef Rakha have crafted potent narratives of conspiracy that have remained unexamined until now.

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Note on Transliteration and Translation
Chapter 1: Dramaturgies of Conspiracy: Bakathir, Idris, and the July Regime
Chapter 2: Naguib Surur: The Poetics and Politics of Niyāka
Chapter 3: Sonallah Ibrahim’s al-Lajna: Between Critical Theory and Conspiracy Theory
Chapter 4: Gamal al-Ghitani’s Ḥikāyāt al-Khabīʾa: The Fitna of Sexual Deviance
Chapter 5: Paranoia in the Second Degree: Three Recent Novels

About the Author

Benjamin Koerber is Assistant Professor of Arabic language and literature in the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures at Rutgers University.

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