US publisher to issue Egyptian graphic novel banned under Mubarak

Author Magdy El-Shafei, who was arrested and his book banned during the Mubarak era, is to see his work published in the United States

Published on Tuesday 25 Oct 2011 in Ahram Online

Metropolitan books is to publish a graphic novel by Magdy El-Shafei, which was banned in Egypt during the Mubarak era, in the US.

El-Shafei’s Metro was originally to be published in 2008 by Malameh, owned by Muhammad Al-Sharkawi, but police broke into the publishing house, confiscated the novel and arrested El-Shafei and Al-Sharkawi.

El-Shafei’s novel targets an adult audience and sheds a light on a modern Cairo pulsing with corruption and hypocrisy. Among accusations made against El-Shafei was that the story negatively portrays the Egyptian police. He was also attacked for mentioning homosexuality. Saleh Al-Derbashy, an attorney who filed the complaint against Metro, explained that despite those topics being present and accepted in regular literature, their graphic depiction renders the book ‘dangerous’ and ‘disturbing to public morals’.

The Hisham Mubarak Law Centre defended El-Shafei’s case in court, but the book was banned, and the author and publisher were fined LE 5,000.

El-Shafei is an Egyptian cartoonist born in Libya in 1961. He started work at Alaa Eddin in 2003, and two years later started publishing strips in El-Dustur newspaper. He also launched the first comics website in Arabic www.magdycomics.com and has published many works in Egypt.

With its offices in New York, Metropolitan Books is an imprint of Henry Holt and publishes non-fiction and fiction, both American and international, in a variety of genres.

Metropolitan is known to shed light on unconventional points of view and controversial opinions, giving voice to new authors.

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