The Committee by Sun' Allah Ibrahim
(Middle East Literature in Translation)

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Writing in an intriguingly symbolic and minimalist style, author Sonallah Ibrahim has been called the Egyptian Kafka. And no wonder. This wry take on Kafka's The Trial revolves around its narrator's attempts to petition successfully the elusive ruling body of his country, known simply as "the committee". Consequences for his actions range from the absurd to the hideous.In Kafkaesque fashion, Ibrahim offers an unbroken first-person narrative rendered in brief, crisp prose framed by a conspicuous absence of vivid imagery. Furthermore, the petitioner is a man without identity. The ideal anti-hero, he remains, as does his country, unnamed throughout the intricate plot with a locale suggestive of 1970s Cairo.Considered a major work, The Committee sardonically pierces the inflammatory terrain between ordinary men, unbridled displays of power, and other, broader concerns of the author's native Egypt. The novel's corrosive, shocking conclusion catapults satiric surrealism into a new realm.

About Sun' Allah Ibrahim

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Born in Cairo and trained as a lawyer, Ibrahim chose a career of journalism. He was imprisoned for five years (1959--64) because of his political activities. In 1968 he went to Lebanon, then to East Berlin, and later to Moscow, where he studied cinema. St. Germain is head of the Near East Section at the University of Washington libraries. Constable studied Arabic at the University of Washington. She has traveled in Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
Published November 1, 2001 by Syracuse University Press. 166 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Committee

The New York Times

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Although Sunallah Ibrahim is an acclaimed Egyptian author, he had to publish ''The Committee'' in Lebanon, and when the novel finally did appear, in 1981, it provoked controversy throughout the Arab world.

Dec 16 2001 | Read Full Review of The Committee (Middle East Li...

Publishers Weekly

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In keeping with Ibrahim's reputation as the "Egyptian Kafka," the Committee is anonymous, oppressive and symbolic of familiar social forces—though recent world events will prompt readers to associate it with more specific clandestine organizations.

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