Beer in the Snooker Club by Waguih Ghali

For June we’re reading Beer in the Snooker Club by Egyptian author Waguih Ghali.

A brief summary of the book from the publisher, Serpent’s Tail:
“Behind the bar at Jameel’s in Cairo hang two mugs engraved with the names of Ram and Font. During their years together in London, they drank many a pint of Bass from these mugs. But there is no Bass in Nasser’s Egypt, so Ram and Font have to make do with a heady mixture of beer, vodka and whisky. Yearning for Bass they long to be far from a revolution that neither serves the people nor allows their rich aunts to live the life of leisure they are accustomed to. Stranded between two cultures, Ram and Font must choose between dangerous political opposition and reluctant acquiescence. First published in 1964, Beer in the Snooker Club is a classic of the literature of emigration.”

For further reading (spoiler alerts!), here is an article on the life and works of Waguih Ghali by Susie Thomas at London Fictions, a review from Ahdaf Soueif in the London Review of Books, as well as thoughts from M. Lynx Qualey at Arab Lit in English and Ursula Lindsey at the Arabist. If you can get your hands on a paper copy of Banipal 41, take a look at André Naffis-Sahely’s review, and if you have journal access, see Deborah A. Starr‘s paper “Drinking, Gambling, and Making Merry: Waguih Ghali’s Search for Cosmopolitan Agency” in Middle Eastern Literatures.

*Update: for thoughts on reading Beer in the Snooker Club after the revolution, look to Helen Stuhr-Rommereim‘s review on Full Stop, or M. Lynx Qualey‘s review on AGNI.

We’ll meet to discuss on Wednesday, June 23rd 2010.

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