Sonallah Ibrahim: Rebel with a Pen

by Paul Starkey

Sonallah Ibrahim is one of the most important Arabic novelists of the modern era, with an unrivalled reputation for independence and integrity among contemporary Egyptian writers. Here, each of the author’s novels is discussed individually, beginning with the influential Tilka al-ra’iha [That Smell] (1966) and ending with al-Jalid [Ice] (2011), with each work discussed in its literary, social, historical and political context. The volume traces the evolution of Sonallah Ibrahim’s work both thematically and in terms of his literary technique, and concludes with an attempt at an overall evaluation of the author’s contribution to the contemporary Egyptian novel. Paul Starkey’s account shows how innovative and stylistically rich the Arabic novel has become over a period of some fifty years, beyond the better-known work of writers such as Naguib Mahfouz and Yusuf Idris. As such, the volume will serve as an introduction not only to the individual author but also to the development of Egyptian (and, more generally, Arabic) literature over the last half century.