The new collection of stories by Hedra Gerges, entitled Beldabt kana Youshbeh al-Soura (He looked Exactly like the Picture) consists of six stories that the author describes as a “sequence”, all of which are set in Upper Egypt, which nicely coalese together. The stories feature Coptic protagonists who have been relatively absent from Egyptian writings.
Gerges received the Sawiris Foundation award for his novel Mawaqeet al-Taarri (Times for Nudity) in 2008.
Here’s an excerpt from the collection:
“The Nile has two souls suspended between its surface and bottom. The good one blessed infant baptisms before any church was built and kept safe that newborn whose placenta was thrown into the Nile. The evil soul picked its sacrificial offerings by itself. When the two souls quarreled, the Nile water would overflow, seething with anger, and would burble as though boiling. Now unleashed, the angry waters flow to inflict harm on the people. The semi-naked men carry the parts of their mud homes–made of tree trunks, wood and palm fronds. They dip into the muddy water reaching up to their stomachs and move to live in the western highlands.”
Book: Beldabt kana Youshbeh al-Soura (Exactly Like the Picture)
Author: Hedra Gerges
Publisher: el-Dar, Cairo, 2010
83 medium-size pages