A city on the brink of revolution, its inhabitants haunted by the past
Set in the decade preceding the uprising that culminated in President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, Conjuring Tricks offers a persuasive picture of life in Egypt's police state and an explanation as to why so many people took to the streets.
It is a portrait of Cairo, the largest metropolis of the Arab world: at times lyrical, at others hallucinatory, it maps the fault lines in a city on the brink of upheaval, a place where centuries of history are threatening to fragment.
From the crumbling medieval heart of the metropolis to the dust-laden salons of surviviors of the ancien regime, it follows the overlapping lives of a cosmopolitan cast of characters: Maria, Greek-Egyptian dealer in dubious antiquities; Ismail, who might have been a pianist but instead was born a prince; Mohamed, the drug dealing coffee shop owner; Yuyu, a Japanese actor intent on turning his life into a novel by Genet and William, the octogenarian music critic whose life the narrator is desperate to reconstruct.
Conjuring Tricks is a survival guide to living in a world where nothing is quite what it seems.