Ezzat Amin's book “Party of the Couch: My Journey from the Couch to the Square” opens with the author describing his revolutionary journey from the comfort of a living room sofa to Tahrir Square. Published by Dar al-Shorouk, the book is a compilation of 24 articles that Amin wrote over the last 10 months on his Facebook wall.
An engineer who works in advertising, Amin is also the host of the comedy show “Party of the Couch” on El-Gomhoreya TV, which centers around a married couple living in Tahrir Square that supports Hosni Mubarak's regime. Amin is also the screenwriter of “Matnam: An Egyptian Con,” a serial cartoon show launched during Ramadan about Batman moving to Egypt.
The first part of the book offers Amin’s own interpretation of the societal changes that occurred before, during and after the 18-day uprising early this year.
“One of the occurrences I will never forget is an army official saying 'good morning' to protesters who had slept under the wheels of his tank to prevent it from moving,” he writes.
He describes the state of political and social numbness that some Egyptians, especially young people, lived in: “I was couch-ridden along with my best friend, Mohamed Hosny, for 36 consecutive hours in his lavish house in Marina [an upscale beach resort on the Mediterranean Sea].”
According to Amin, pre-revolution politics was merely a game for Mubarak’s gang to protect his position. He writes that he belonged to a generation that entirely depended on football player Mohamed Abu Treika’s talent in the last 10 minutes of any football game to gain a sense of victory, armed with their TV remote controls that were their “only and last weapon of control.”
Amin follows this with his analysis of the factors that led to the revolution: poverty, corruption, unnecessary taxes and the police brutality exemplified by the tragic death of Khaled Saeed. He also talks at some length about the rigging of the 2010 parliamentary elections, in which the NDP won an overwhelming majority. Amin references Article 76 of the previous constitution that stipulated candidacy requirements for presidential elections and was amended in 2005 to pave the way for Gamal Mubarak to succeed his father.
The author wrote the 24 articles in “Party of the Couch” after Mubarak stepped down in February; the most famous of which is his first article, “A Message to the Great Party of the Couch.” Amin was the first to widely employ the term that became very popular, and is now frequently used to describe the “silent majority” of Egyptians who do not actively participate in the country’s political life or protests.
Like the majority of young writers of his generation, Amin’s writing style is laid-back and smoothly mixes standard Arabic with the colloquial dialect for a flow that is popular among many young Egyptian readers.
Amin echoes what’s being discussed on the street, accentuates people’s worries and sometimes comes up with his own interpretation of recent events.
Presenting his ideas in the form of a Q&A or pointers makes the information easy to digest. He answers questions that the average Egyptian asks on a daily basis: What does counter-revolution mean? Who is Wael Ghonim? Why are people still in Tahrir Square? And, who should I vote for?
Overall, “Party of the Couch” is a good read, although it does drag a bit in the second part. Still, it will resonate with many readers as it narrates a journey with which millions of Egyptians can identify. Most importantly, the book does not offer solutions, but rather invites readers to think and analyze for themselves.