The Apartment in Bab El-Louk


Ahmad Nady

Donia Maher




This ‘fabulous noir poem’ has been simply described as ‘the reflections of an old recluse in busy downtown Cairo neighbourhood of Bab El-Louk’ by Egyptian artist, Ganzeer. Cairo-based writer Donia Maher was first published in Arabic by Dar Merit in 2014, and then received the Kahil Award 2015 for the Graphic Novel Prize.

“Ganzeer elegantly laid out the text, the scattered rantings of an agoraphobic misanthrope, more poetry than prose—alongside images of the gritty downtown flat.
You’re forced to listen to the anonymous narrator, screaming at unwanted visitors, neighbors and maids who knock on the door of the cramped apartment. Hitchcock might have conjured up such a neurotic character, a dark face peeping out the window at a quarrel on the street below. “You’ll be scared, even though you’ve locked the door,” says the narrator, speaking with brevity that portends doom.

The last eight pages of this “fabulous noir poem,” as its been called, feature a comic by Ahmed Nady. He’s an insurgent graffiti artist and illustrator of grotesque political caricature, the perfect guy to draw a shakedown at the hands of corrupt cops. In his comic, we learn that the reclusive narrator has been murdered. The cops bust into the joint. But they pinch a patsy, an innocent neighbor, rather than the real culprit.”

Jonathan Guyer, The Paris Review

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Publication Date

November 2017

Original Language