Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Albert Cossery

One writer who I've discovered posthumously is Albert Cossery, an Egyptian novelist and graphic novelist who died in 2008. A big proponent of laziness (which he called the route to which one could find meditation and creativity), he didn't write much in his long life: just a handful of novels and some stories. But his work is going through a kind of Renaissance in the English-speaking world (he wrote in French) with several new translations (including this one done by Words Without Borders of his 1955 graphic novel, "Proud Beggars.")

He'd have much to say, naturally, on all the political happenings in Eqypt and though he lived in Paris most of his life, all of his novels are set in the streets, markets and alleys of his boyhood Cairo. He was very much interested in the struggles of the poor and his work has a beautiful and moving humanity to it.

"A great book gives you extraordinary power. You may be poor, miserable, ill, desperate; reading a great masterpiece makes you forget all that."  From Conversation avec Albert Cossery

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