For ten years this book was banned in Egypt. Yusuf wrote it in 1975, only ten years later the book could be published. Is it a problematic book ? During a reign that does not take democracy serious any book could be a problematic book.
Yusuf al-Qaid wrote not exactly about a war in Egypt, maybe referring to the war with Israel that was lost (1973), for the story starts in 1973. But he wrote about a more important war that was going on within the borders of Egypt. A war between the haves and the have-nots. A war between those who have influence and those who do not. Between the people who bend the rules and those who are the victims of the bending. It is the war of those who have usurped power and will not let go of it.
In this story the umda (a kind of mayor) receives the message that his youngest son has to enter military service. He does not want to follow this command. His youngest son is a son of his favourite wife (his third one in a row). How could this boy leave home? So he tries to find a way out. His son will be replaced by someone else who will take the identity of his son, who will disappear for the time being.
It is the start of complications, complications with a mortal effect. The story is told by different people who get involved in this change of persons. Slowly but surely the story unfolds. A war is raging and the victims will be speechless. It is a story about Egypt (one of the main characters is called Masri !), and Egypt is losing its war. It still can be seen, notwithstanding the Arab Spring.
The book was banned, so there must have been some truth in the content of this book. It is a very good read.
Yusuf al-Qaid – Al-harb fi bar Misr – 1975