by Sonallah Ibrahim
Set in the turbulent years of Egypt before the 1952 revolution, Sonallah Ibrahim’s Stealth is a child’s-eye view of a boy coming of age in Cairo. The boy sneaks around, peeking through keyholes, learning about the hidden world if the adults as he struggles to free himself from his ailing, controlling father and to come to terms with the absence of his mother. What happened to her and will she ever return? Why are they so poor if his sister Nabila has whatever she wants? We go with the boy through the decaying city of Cairo as he spies on movie stars, royalty, revolutionaries, and ordinary folk, who eke out a living ironing clothes, selling groceries, practicing law, and peddling second-hand goods. Stealth, the most personal and autobiographical of Ibrahim’s novels, creates a vivid portrait of an Egyptian social system on the verge of collapse and reformation, much like the Egypt of 2007 when he published it.