Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Makan - Book Review


Makan is collection of 18 short stories, selected from a total of 90 pieces written in both English and Arabic. It is the product of the Makan Writing Award, which is a sub-project of The Forgotten Writers Foundation, founded and headed by writer Mahmoud Mansi, who was also one of the judges in this competition. The challenge was held in 2013 and the winners were announced during the Cairo International Book Fair on the 6th of February 2014.

‘Makan’ means ‘place’ in Arabic. Writers had to write about one – or two – of three places in Egypt, namely: The Baron’s Palace in Heliopolis, Cairo; the Hussein neighbourhood in Old Cairo; and Qayet Bay Castle (Fortress) in Alexandria.

The Makan collection comprises nine English pieces and nine Arabic ones.

I found the English pieces to be far more exciting and imaginative than the Arabic ones. I don’t like stories where I’m spellbound at the beginning then confused at the ending; this is how I felt with many of the Arabic pieces.
A piece that has potential but didn’t make it to five stars was “Shams Yaqeen”. It earned 3 to 3.5 stars but I didn’t like that it was long with an abrupt ending – I don’t mind length if the ending will wow me or leave me happy or thinking about it.

Three of my friends had their short stories published in this collection; two wrote in English and one in Arabic. Below are my favourite pieces; those that I gave an overall 4.5 or 5 stars. (They’re not written in any particular order)

·        A Trip through the Eyes of Brahma by Dina Korayem
·        The Sabil of Every Lost Love by Rana Kamaly
·        The Incense Lives by Nariman Mohamed Eid
·        The Sanctuary of Unforgotten Memories by Moataz Muhammed Ibrahim Muhammed
·        Al-Hagar (The Stone) by Sherif El-Harawy (Arabic piece)
·        Fagr Aakhar (Another Dawn) by Adham Sayed Hussein (Arabic piece)