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Diaries of an Egyptian Girl

Dina Ghalwash: Diaries of an Egyptian Girl

  • Dina Ghalwash
  • Philosophy
  • Out now
  • English English
  • 85 EGP
  • Diwan
reviewed by
Haisam Awad
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Dina Ghalwash: Diaries of an Egyptian Girl

The growing trend of Egyptian
pseudo-feminist authors has brought mixed results in the past few years. The once novel style of combining
formal writing with anecdotes, opinion, blogging, and diary entries has become
a chick-lit genre of its own.The latest
addition comes from Dina Ghalwash, who has thrown her two cents in with Diaries of an Egyptian Girl.

Published by Shabab Books,
Ghalwash’s debut is made up of three short stories. The first one tells of a
car trip gone wrong, and how the experience takes the author from loving Egypt
to hating it, and then back to loving it even more than before. Having taken a
wrong turn leaving Obour City, the author gets lost somewhere in an abyss in
Cairo. Though you follow the story intently, by the end of it you realise the 50-page
account of the five-hour ride is 45 pages too long, and potentially
interesting strands are cut off to bring focus back to the pilgrimage of her
trip.

The second story tells of Tara, a girl who
quickly finds and loses love. Clichéd notions of the stoic but deeply sensitive
lifelong love, misplaced tears and naivety delegitimize any message that is
meant to be imparted from this tale of heartbreak. The tragically flawed
characters are always the most interesting, but Tara has few redeemable
characteristics.

The third story returns to the first-person
perspective of the author, and starts with the same type of aplomb that may
make the first story patronising to some. It opens with the author’s busy day;
‘I had so many errands that day that it all became a blur. I had to pick up
some papers from school, get some passport photos taken of me and pickup a
dress from the tailor’. Life is indeed tough. After an unpleasant encounter
with a man after once again losing her bearings, Ghalwash goes on to address
the mistakes of judging a book by its cover.

This is a piece of literature that offers
no new view of life in Egypt, and so needs to at least offer some subjectivity,
which it also fails to do. Ghalwash tries valiantly to portray herself as a
symbol of a new cosmopolitan Egypt, but at times actually comes across as being
out of touch. The circumstances and interactions that she has chronicled rarely
occur outside her comfort zone, and in the instances that they do, they’re
presented as a victim’s ‘me against the world’ dichotomy.

It’s obvious that this book has been
written in good intention, but it fails to
disclose any real catharsis from the stories told, and we gain no deeper
knowledge of the author and her characters. Ghalwash is clearly a perceptive, eloquent
and confident individual; characteristics that should have delivered much more in this novel.

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Author Bio

AUC graduate Dina Ghalwash is a teacher. This is her first novel.

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