Egypt’s Banned Graphic Novel to be Published in the U.S.

by Olivia Stransky    /  October 20, 2011  / No comments

First page of Metro, a graphic novel by Magdy El Shafee

Corrupt officials have forced Shihab into debt, causing him to rob a bank to regain his life. (Click image to enlarge)

“Today, let bones be smashed like the dreams of our youth” says Shihab, the protagonist of Magdy El Shafee’s graphic novel Metro. The first Egyptian graphic novel aimed at adults, Metro was published in January 2008; however, on April 13th of the same year Egypt’s Vice Squad confiscated all copies of the book held by El Shafee and his publisher Mohamed Sharqawy.

The book was then removed from bookstores, and the author and publisher were arrested on charges of offending public decency. El Shafee believes that the novel was attacked because of “its alleged political and social commentary,” which criticizes financial corruption in Egypt. 
Read more: here. Ultimately Metro was banned, and El Shafee and Sharqawy were fined E£5,000 ($836 USD) each.

Now, more than three years later, Metro will be published in the United States. Metropolitan Books has announced that an English translation will be available in early 2012. Though the book has not been approved for publication in Egypt yet, El Shafee is hoping that the new government will allow his book to be sold. In an interview with CNN he said “I’m sorry that my novel is available in other countries but not available to my own people.” El Shafee also hopes to receive an apology.

In 2008 Words Without Borders, an online magazine of international literature, published an excerpt of Metro, translated by Humphrey Davies. Click the image above to view the first page of the novel, and read the next seventeen pages here.

About the Author

Olivia Stransky is an editorial assistant and video editor for Sampsonia Way. She received her B.A. in literature and film from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. While a student, she worked as the editor-in-chief of Glacial Erratic, Simon’s Rock’s literary and arts magazine. After graduating she received a grant to serve as a Fulbright Scholar in Slovakia, where she taught English literature and conversation at Univerzita Komenského in Bratislava.

View all articles by Olivia Stransky

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