Wings of Lead: A Modern Egyptian Novella
Amir Hussain teaches courses on Islam at both Wilfrid Laurier University
and McMaster University.
These two short works provide a glimpse into contemporary Egyptian life.
Unfortunately, it is an uninteresting and predictable glimpse, full of
the usual stereotypes. That these stereotypes come from an Arab author
(both works are in bilingual English/Arabic editions) is perhaps more
troubling than the works themselves.
Wings of Lead is a cliché-riddled tale about a young Egyptian man who
leaves his home to study abroad in Vienna. He lives with fellow
expatriates, and falls easily into a pattern of abusing alcohol and
European women. He fails at his studies, is unable to support himself,
and is eventually deported home to Egypt.
“Nobody Complained,” the third story in Five Innovative Egyptian
Short Stories, tells a similar story, only the setting has been changed
to Canada. The stories “Pigs,” “The Torpedo,” and “Men” also
present men who are childish and immature in their relations with women.
One can only wonder about the outcry that these stereotypes of Egyptian
(Arab) men might have produced were the author not an Arab.
The one story in the collection that might properly be called
innovative is “The Reader and the Glass of Milk,” which leaves the
reader unsure just what story is being told and who is telling it.
Unfortunately, such innovation does not extend to the collection as a