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Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781472156853

Price: £10.99

ON SALE: 15th September 2022

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Memoirs

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‘A unique memoir about career, life, love, friendship, motherhood, and the impossibility of succeeding at all of them at the same time . . . fascinating. Blunt, honest, funny’ Jenny Lawson, author of Broken (in the best possible way)

A moving portrait of Diwan and the Cairo that embraced it, an ode to all the people who have kept it going’ Harvard Review


The streets of Cairo make strange music. The echoing calls to prayer; the raging insults hurled between drivers; the steady crescendo of horns honking; the shouts of street vendors; the television sets and radios blaring from every sidewalk. Nadia Wassef knows this song by heart.

In 2002, with her sister, Hind, and their friend, Nihal, she founded Diwan, a fiercely independent bookstore. They were three young women with no business degrees, no formal training, and nothing to lose. At the time, nothing like Diwan existed in Egypt. Culture was languishing under government mismanagement, and books were considered a luxury, not a necessity. Ten years later, Diwan had become a rousing success, with ten locations, 150 employees, and a fervent fan base.

Frank, fresh, and very funny, Nadia Wassef’s memoir tells the story of this journey. Its eclectic cast of characters features Diwan’s impassioned regulars, like the demanding Dr. Medhat; Samir, the driver with CEO aspirations; meditative and mythical Nihal; silent but deadly Hind; dictatorial and exacting Nadia, a self-proclaimed bitch to work with-and the many people, mostly men, who said Diwan would never work.

Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller is a portrait of a country hurtling toward revolution, a feminist rallying cry, and an unapologetic crash course in running a business under the law of entropy. Above all, it is a celebration of the power of words to bring us home.

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Reviews

'A unique memoir about career, life, love, friendship, motherhood, and the impossibility of succeeding at all of them at the same time. It is the story of Diwan, the first modern bookstore in Cairo, which was opened by three women, one of whom penned this book. As a bookstore owner I found this fascinating. As a reader I found it fascinating. Blunt, honest, funny'
enny Lawson, author of Broken (in the best possible way)
'A moving portrait of Diwan and the Cairo that embraced it, an ode to all the people who have kept it going'
Harvard Review
'Each chapter tells of a different section of the bookshop/cafe, with the memoir exploring the many challenges and difficulties the women faced in their enterprise. Her story is a fascinating and enlightening one'
Choice Magazine

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