Playing Cards In Cairo, By Hugh Miles

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The Independent Culture

In the wake of Egypt's revolution, this shrewd and lively record of life in middle-class Cairo by a well-embdded journalist deserves a new edition. For Hugh Miles introduces us to just the sort of people - educated, outward-looking but thwarted by hard or hidebound lives – who made the change and will ensure that it takes root.

When he falls in love with a young doctor, Miles drops through the thin expat subsoil of bars, hotels and clubs. With Roda's family, he digs deep into Cairo's hidden substrata of domestic duties.

His book shuffles this emotional progress with delightful anecdotes (don't try any curse involving "mother" on a Cairo cabbie), poignant stories (notably, the dating disasters of Roda's card-playing fiend, Yosra) and eye-opening observations.