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Youssef Rakha in The New York Times

July 18, 2013

52_interviewee_youssef-rakhaOn Tuesday of this week, The New York Times published an op-ed by Youssef Rakha, author of the novel The Crocodiles, to be published in Fall 2014 by Seven Stories.

In the Times, Rakha, a native Egyptian living in Cairo, describes first-hand the increasing abuse of Egyptian society which followed the election of Mohamad Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president. He argues that Morsi’s Egypt exemplifies why political Islam and democracy are incompatible.

Rakha states, “They don’t mix not only in theoretical terms…but also because political Islam gives political cover to all that is undemocratic in Arab society.” Under Morsi rule, presidential protestors were violently suppressed, a Shiite activist was dragged through the streets and killed, religious police killed a man for walking outside with his girlfriend, and women not wearing a hijab were discriminated against and sexually harassed.

Rakha’s novel was written as an echo of clamor of the Egyptian revolution and describes with feeling how and why youth turn to revolution.  The Crocodiles begins with a suicide, that of a beautiful Egyptian-American student activist, in 1997 that kicks off a clandestine literary project strongly reminiscent of The Savage Detectives: The Crocodiles Group for Secret Egyptian Poetry.  Their years of unbounded excesses in sex, drugs, and alcohol dovetail with an honest search for authenticity and total freedom, and a hatred of the mercantile values of society.  What emerges from this patchwork of reflections and memories—more logically than chronologically connected—is a story of violence, sex, meta-fiction, and deception.

Read the full article here.

Youssef Rakha is the author of The Crocodiles: a portrait of a generation, a cosmology of Egyptian society and the human condition, and an astonishing English debut from one of the most promising Arab writers. Seven Stories Press is proud to publish The Crocodiles by Youssef Rakha in Fall 2014.

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