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Mohamed's top reads of 2023


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Explore the team’s favourite books of 2023! Choosing three from an entire year is a challenge and more recent reads tend to obscure what you read in February. Still, there are those that stay with you through the months. Why three? Because it's more than one but less than a list...

These are Mohamed's most memorable reads of the year!

Traces of Enayat by Iman Mersal: Traces of Enayat is a deeply personal exploration of an archive that’s been neglected before it was altogether forgotten. Enayat el-Zayyat wrote "Love and Silence", which was published following her death by suicide in 1963. Iman’s book follows in the footsteps of Enayat, drawing on the relationship she’s forming with this unknowable figure who never found a place as someone whose life and work was worth archiving. Iman’s book considers the gaps left in Enayat’s life story as part of the history being reckoned with. Absences, in this book, make way for shadows of the past to appear and reappear, each time differently. Given the rapidly changing Egyptian urban landscape at the hands of the current regime, reading this book was a relief for its ability to imagine different ways of remembering that aren’t restricted by traditional forms of archiving. Part-memoir, part-detective story replete with cultural history, Iman’s book asks, who tells the stories of memories that have faded, and what are the different ways we can remember that honour and allow us to connect with this new archive that’s being created?

Watch Iman Mersal reading from the book HERE

The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila: A series of short stories that I would describe as unsettling with a bit of psychological horror. There’s the sense that all of her characters are trying to reach out for something unknown to them, and Davila expertly provides just enough for the reader to feel what’s there without it ever landing - these are stories that will linger. Feels like they should be read by a fire.

Truth & Dare by So Mayer: Another incredible collection of short stories with a thread of memoir running through. The writing breaks apart all of the traditions it inhabits, finding ways of writing queer stories back into spaces where they have been erased. The form recognises that if we can’t imagine ways of thinking differently, we’ll just recreate the structures that have oppressed us. In this collection, the past has elements of sci-fi, the author has a real and imagined encounter with a relative, these stories recognise that when your history has been suppressed, when the evidence of past existence has been deleted, you have to find new ways of revisiting that erased archive so that it can hold you.

Watch out for the rest of the team favourites, coming in the next few days on the website!

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