In The Republic of False Truths, Alaa Al Aswany Portrays the Egyptian Revolution of 2011

The famed writer’s novel, banned in Egypt and in several Arab countries, comes out in English.
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The Republic of False Truths by Alaa Al Aswany.

Alaa Al Aswany’s The Republic of False Truths is a fictionalised recount of the failed Egyptian uprising of 2011. Through the perspectives of those who supported the reforms and those who stood against them, the novel captures the building tension in the city of Cairo, culminating at Tahrir Square, the centre of the protests against the 30-year regime of then president Hosni Mubarak.

The novel is banned in Egypt and in several Arab countries. An English translation by S. R. Fellowes appears in the US this month from Alfred A. Knopf and in the UK from Faber.

Here is a description:

Cairo, 2011. After decades under a repressive regime, tensions are rising in the city streets. No one is out of reach of the revolution.

There is General Alwany, a high-ranking member of the government’s security agency, a pious man who loves his family yet won’t hesitate to torture enemies of the state; Asma, a young teacher who chafes against the brazen corruption at her school; Ashraf, an out-of-work actor who is having an affair with his maid and who gets pulled into Tahrir Square through a chance encounter; Nourhan, a television personality who loyally defends those in power; and many more.

As these lives collide, a new generation finds a voice, love blossoms across class divides, and the revolution gains strength. Even the general finds himself at a crossroads as his own daughter joins the protests. Yet the old regime will not give up without a fight.

With an unforgettably vivid cast of characters and a heart-pounding narrative banned across much of the region, Alaa Al Aswany gives us a deeply human portrait of the Egyptian Revolution, and an impassioned retelling of his country’s turbulent recent history.

Alaa Al Aswany. Credit: Alaa Al Aswany's Facebook page.
Alaa Al Aswany. Credit: Alaa Al Aswany’s Facebook page.

Alaa Al Aswany is also a dentist and founder of the political movement Kefaya. He is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, including the acclaimed novel The Yacoubian Building, which sold more than a million copies around the world. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages and published in more than 100 countries. A recipient of the Grinzane Cavour Prize, he was appointed a Chevalier of the Order des Arts et des Lettres of France in 2016.

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The Republic of False Truths has been called “gorgeous” by The Independent and “a stark lesson for democracies everywhere” by Booklist

Al Aswany told the Los Angeles Times, “I made a big mistake. I thought the revolution was representing all Egyptians, but we were the minority and, at some point, people turned against us. This novel is a way to understand what happened.”

Paula Willie-Okafor
Paula Willie-Okafor is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. She is a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she is custodian of The Writers' Community (TWC). Her writing has appeared in Kissing Dynamite Magazine and Praxis Magazine.
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