The Palimpsest of Cairo

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Tammy Gaber

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Abstract

Cairo is an overwhelming, intense, and unforgettable city that imprints immediately
upon anyone who has visited or lived there. The city itself is a
result of the impressions and marks left by two millennia of settlements,
conquests, and immigration. Three books recently published cover different
layers of this city, and within each layer are multiples of layers of history
impressing on each other and revealing a most complex and intertwined
amalgam of histories evidenced in the architecture extant today. All three books not only center around works from Cairo, but the contributors
and authors have all lived in this city of a “thousand minarets”
for certain periods of time. Just as Nagib Mahfouz’s works bring to life the
multifaceted city in novel form, creating characters that are never forgotten,
so to do these books begin to bring to life and to communicate some
of the fantastic histories that can be read from the buildings that mark the
skyline and can never be forgotten.

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