Arts + Culture

"The Queue" is a Dystopian Novel About Egypt After the Revolution

While Basma Abdel Aziz's new work starts with a bullet to the gut it is also relevant to those of us stuck on hold with an insurance agent.

When describing Basma Abdel Aziz’s novel, The Queue (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette), it’s easy to compare her to George Orwell and Franz Kafka or to use terms like “satire” and “dystopia.” And certainly, these shoes fit. But these kinds of descriptions are also a kind of trap: we know these words too well, and putting a familiar label on this novel makes it seem too familiar, giving readers permission to know what they’ll find before they start writing.

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