Winner of Katara Prize For Arabic Novel 2016
In Al-Azbakia, Nasser Iraq endeavors to draw on the past, specifically the time when Muhammad Ali Pasha ruled Egypt, in an attempt to make sense of the present. His purpose is to shed light on some of today’s details that many fail to recognize as nothing more than a glimpse, or in one way or another a continuation, of the past.The novel gives a realistic aura to historical moments that makes them more glorious and lively; a rhythm that brings them from the past to our present without losing their freshness or making them less surprising. The novel captures such realistic moments so vividly that they touch your soul and enter your heart. You feel them so that you begin to think that you went into a trance, travelling times and distances to live within the world depicted by the story. You start to live with its heroes, sharing their happy and sad moments and dreams and nightmares. There, between the lines and sentences, you meet with some well-known names, like Muhammad Ali Pasha, Abdulrahman Al Jabarti and Napoleon Bonaparte, and some others, like Ayoub, Shaldam, Khawaja (a colloquial form of address for a foreigner) Sharl and Mese’ada Hijab, that you will never meet except in this novel. The writer does a good job of picking up his characters and sketching them. The historical facts do not prevent him from creating fictional characters to whom he quickly gives flesh, blood and ideas. Events gets intertwined, and characters interact lively to create a world of dynamic events and people breathing life between facts supported by history and fiction to which the writer gives a realistic touch as it becomes an imaginary reality.