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Home > History, Art and Tradition

A look at the latest publications from the AUC Press reveals a rich mixture of fact and fiction gushing from history, tradition and the arts and crafts
By Sarah Ali


An established modern visual artist herself, Cairo-born Liliane Karnouk has successfully assembled a historical survey of modern Egyptian art in this book. It includes the works of various artists that lived and experienced the different periods of recent Egyptian history. It is not organized chronologically, but rather by theme. Karnouk categorizes the artists and their work into groups that better represent their ideas, than if they were simply organized historically. However, she keeps it all in context by tracing the parallel steps between the art being created and the social and political environment at that time. It sheds light on how modern art was brought into Egypt when the artists of the country started to adhere to international art. The book includes information on 70 Egyptian artists and is illustrated with over 280 images.The Building Crafts of Cairo:A Living Tradition
by Agnieszka Dobrowolska

Dobrowolska, a conservation architect, contrasts the various craftsmen of today's Egypt with those described by Napoleon's scholars in 1789. The book encompasses all the traditional crafts of Egypt, from masons and stonecutters to wood turners and inlay workers. These crafts where first documented in the Description de l'Egypte, with great detail, which included descriptions of where in Cairo the crafts took place and exactly how they were conducted. In this book, Dobrowolska takes a modern look at the same crafts to find out how much has changed over time. The book is filled from beginning to end with vibrantly colored photographs and sketches that illustrate each craft and the men and women who create them step-by-step.

The Woman of the Flask
by Selim Matar

The Woman of the Flask tells the story of two men who escape their troubled homeland of Iraq in search of a better life and end up in Switzerland. Adam, the main character of the story, packs with him a flask shaped like a female body, which he found among his father's belongings before his departure. He discovers that the flask holds within it a woman of unparalleled beauty who had been the lover of his ancestors for the past five thousand years. Through Hajir, the Woman of the Flask, and her memories, Adam learns of the men who have lived before him and enjoyed her love. The seven-chapter novel accounts Adam's life in Switzerland with his Swiss wife, as well as that of his fellow exile and the story of Hajir's unhappiness with immortality.

In Praise of Books: A CulturalHistory of Cairo's Middle Class,Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century
by Nelly Hanna

Professor and chair of the Department of Arabic Studies at AUC, Hanna unearths new facts about the Egypt of the Ottoman Empire with her research on text written by the non-elite of the time. Despite their meager status among Egyptian society, Hanna claims that these authors contributed to the changes of Egypt during the 16th through the 18th centuries and helped bring the country to where it is now. She claims that this discovery sheds the light on a group of people that researchers today may have overlooked; the middle class of the Ottoman Empire. Hanna looks at the economic and cultural contexts, the regional and local power structure, and the non-religious perspectives of the middle class to identify the influences of those who were not at the top.

The Illustrated Guide toLuxor Tombs, Temples, and Museums
by Kent R. Weeks

This book is much more than just a guide to the sites of the ancient city of Luxor. It includes, in extensive detail, information about the tombs and temples of certain areas that are unavailable in regular guidebooks. Every single page features at least one illustration — ranging from maps, photographs, paintings and drawings — corresponding to the respective site being discussed. The guide is organized by monument, and the sites on the West Bank of the Nile are ordered chronologically by type (temple, royal tomb, private tomb). The information is easy to follow and a glossary of Egyptology terms is included to further help the reader. It is ideal for any traveler wishing to obtain a deeper understanding of the area, but can be equally enjoyed by those who only dream of visiting Luxor.

Nights of Musk: Stories from Old Nubia
by Haggag Hassan Oddoul

Nights of Musk is a collection of four short stories about the traditional life and culture of the Nubians of Egypt. In his stories, Oddoul captures — in astounding detail — the ways of the Nubian people and the tragedy of their demise through the course of history, which began with the construction of the Aswan dam. Through the tales of his various characters you learn how the traditions, the rhythmic dancing and singing, the roles and mentalities of each generation and even the Nubian language set them apart from the rest of the Egyptian people.  et