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Taxi, By Khaled Al-Khamissi


Bloomsbury Qatar's enterprising list of Arabic fiction brings a welcome new spin for this effervescent and free-spirited convoy of Egyptian stories: a huge hit on publication in 2006.

In 58 short sections, Al-Khamissi introduces us to the lives, hopes, fears and (above all) the deliciously rendered voices of Cairo's cabbies.

Jonathan Wright's translation catches their raucous, ribald, but also tender and melancholic, drift. Money, love, family, politics, and the sheer surreal mayhem of the daily grind under Mubarak's regime, drive this invigorating panorama of a city, and a country, stuck in an endless tailback.

Prior to Egypt's revolution, Taxi would have told you more than a thousand Twitter feeds about what was coming down the road beside the Nile.