Saturday, July 19, 2014
Playing Cards in Cairo by Hugh Miles
PLAYING CARDS IN CAIRO is a fly-on-the-wall account - of life (for western readers) in a strange and exotic environment. Hugh Miles lives in Cairo and is engaged to an Egyptian woman. Twice a week he plays cards with a small group of Arab, Muslim women and through this medium he explores their lives in modern Cairo, the greatest of Arab cities.
It is a secretive, romantic, often deprived but always soulful existence for the women as they struggle with abusive husbands and philandering boyfriends. The book is a window onto a city - and a way of life - which is at a crucial juncture in its history. Hugh Miles, who knows the Arab world intimately, is the perfect guide.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I came across this book - I was just really intrigued by the cover. I love the vibrant blue as well as the mysterious Egyptian woman behind the veil. Because of my interest of lives of women in culture that's foreign from my own, I approached this book with much openness, However, I was also mindful that this book is from the perspective of a Western man and such how accurate he would be then on his interpretation of woman in Cairo? Maybe only from the ones that he met and the ones that he spoke to. However, I am also aware that he married an Egyptian woman so he might have something to share after all.
All in all, it was an enjoyable read. Do I really know about women in Cairo after reading? Not really. Do I get an idea? Yes, I do. Does Was it an eye opener? Yes, it certainly is. Would I recommend this book? Yes, I certainly would.
I have already sold off this book at a recent book sale and the lady who bought it said she heard about this book and know that it's rather expensive (around US20 for a new copy) and she certainly was glad to get hold of my copy. As for me, I miss the vibrant blue cover.
And that really sums up my opinion on the book. You just have to read it yourself.