The Revolution: Report From Literary Egypt

For his article "The Revolution: Report From Literary Egypt," contributing editor Stephen Morison Jr, who lives in Madaba-Manja, Jordan, traveled to Cairo twice—first in late August 2012 and again in early October—and spoke with writers, publishers, and booksellers about the Arab Spring of 2011, freedom of expression and censorship, and the ongoing protests of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in the city's Tahrir Square.

The roads leading into the Garden City neighborhood of Cairo are barricaded by nine-foot walls of concrete blocks put up by the authorities
to keep out the protesters.

The headquarters of Egypt's former ruling party, a fifteen-story monolith situated between the Egyptian Museum (home to mummies and Pharaonic treasures) and the Nile, is a ransacked, burned-out hulk.

Elaborate graffiti covers the walls of buildings in Cairo.

The graffiti in Cairo reflects the political mood of the city: images of former president Hosni Mubarak as a monster and the newly elected President Mohamed Morsi looking calm and charismatic, hijab-covered grandmothers cheering on gun-waving protesters, a spray-painted computer power button and beneath it the Arabic words “the people,” and countless other symbols and sayings.

Right to left: Egyptian novelists Al Taher Sharkawy and Mohamed Rabie, short story writer Aman Abdel Rehim, and bookseller and publisher Karam Youssef at Kotob Khan, Youseff's bookstore in Cairo.

Short story writer, novelist, and translator Muhamed "Nebo" Abdelnaby at the rooftop restaurant of the Happy City Hotel in Cairo. Aldelnaby, who was raised in an Islamic school, has a laissez-faire attitude about the prospect of increased censorship in Egypt and points out that he can self-publish on the Internet.

Short story writer Mohammed Abu il Dahab at a basement bar in Old Cairo. “Things will become hard for writers who write like me,” he says. “Many of my friends and I wrote in, you can say, a free way about sex, religion, politics. It seems like in these days to come, this will be difficult.”

Protesters gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square on October 20, 2012.

Two girls, ages four or five, wearing little Palestinian kaffiyeh head scarves, join the protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on October 20, 2012. They hold a sign that says in Arabic: “The system is killing me; my blood is cheap for you.”