The Automobile Club of Egypt
by Alaa Al Aswany
In British-occupied Egypt, on the eve of the 1952 revolution, respected landowner Abd el-Aziz Gaafar has fallen on hard times. Bankrupt, he moves his family to Cairo and takes a menial job at the Automobile Club, a luxurious lodge for its European members, where Egyptians appear only as fearful servants. When Abd el-Aziz’s pride gets the better of him and he stands up for himself, he is subjected to a corporal punishment that ultimately kills him—leaving two of his sons obliged to work in the Club. As the nation teeters on the brink of change, both servants and masters are subsumed by social upheaval, and the Egyptians of the Automobile Club face a choice: to live safely but without dignity as servants, or to risk everything and fight for their rights. Exuberant and powerfully moving, The Automobile Club of Egypt is an essential work of social criticism from one of the Arab world’s greatest literary voices.