Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Proud Beggars (New York Review Books Classics) By Albert Cosery

Proud Beggars (New York Review Books Classics)

Proud Beggars (New York Review Books Classics)
By Albert Cosery

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Average customer review:
(5 customer reviews)

Product Description

Early in Proud Beggars, a brutal and motiveless murder is committed in a Cairo brothel. But the real mystery at the heart of Albert Cossery's wry black comedy is not the cause of this death but the paradoxical richness to be found in even the most materially impoverished life.
Chief among Cossery's proud beggars is Gohar, a former professor turned whorehouse accountant, hashish aficionado, and street philosopher. Such is his native charm that he has accumulated a small coterie that includes Yeghen, a rhapsodic poet and drug dealer, and El Kordi, an ineffectual clerk and would-be revolutionary who dreams of rescuing a consumptive prostitute. The police investigator Nour El Dine, harboring a dark secret of his own, suspects all three of the murder but finds himself captivated by their warm good humor. How is it that they live amid degrading poverty, yet possess a joie de vivre that even the most assiduous forces of state cannot suppress? Do they, despite their rejection of social norms and all ambition, hold the secret of contentment? And so this short novel, considered one of Cossery's masterpieces, is at once biting social commentary, police procedural, and a mischievous delight in its own right.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #80127 in eBooks
  • Published on: 2011-12-27
  • Released on: 2011-12-27
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of items: 1
Editorial Reviews

"Albert Cossery...ought to be a household name. he's that good: an elegant stylist, an unrelenting ironist, his great subject the futility of ambition 'in a world where everything is false.'" —David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

Language Notes
Text: English, French (translation)

About the Author
Albert Cossery (1913–2008) was born in Cairo. He settled in Paris after the Second World War and lived there for the rest of his life among some of the most influential writers and artists of the last century. In 1990 Cossery was awarded the Grand Prix de la francophonie de l'Académie française. His books, which have been translated into more than fifteen languages, include Men God Forgot, The House of Certain Death, The Splendid Conspiracy, and The Jokers (available from NYRB Classics).

Alyson Waters has translated books by Vassilis Alexakis, Louis Aragon, René Belletto, Réda Bensmaia, Albert Cossery, and Tzvetan Todorov. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, a PEN Translation Fund Grand, a residency grant from the Centre national du livre, and was twice a translator in residence at the Villa Gillet in Lyon, France. She teaches literary translation in the French Department of Yale University, is the managing editor of Yale French Studies, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
5Enduring life when life is unendurable.
By A Customer
Like Albert Cossery's other stories, this one puts you inside an inescapably poor and hopeless life -- in the back streets of Cairo, oppressed by apathy and corruption and stagnation. Sounds fun? Yet it is liberating in its way because if offers a weird logic by which people can endure with a kind of dignity, whether that entails voting a DONKEY for mayor, or laughing out loud during a police beating because the lunch bell rings. Take a breath and try Cossery's books..

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful.
5Serious fiction
By Henry Martin
I first learned of Albert Cossery via Henry Miller's Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Like many other authors Miller refferences in his writing, Albert Cossery is a gem among literature. I have read all of his books translated into English and Proud Beggars was my favorite piece of his. Although set in Egypt, the storyline is timeless. Life in poverty, life among the scam only modern society is capable of producing is described in Cossery's easy flowing, imagery rich way. The ending is exceptional, but I shall not mention it, as I do not want to spoil the joy for any future readers of this master work. In many ways, Cossery's message is very relavant today; the message that man is free only when he has nothing to lose. Society, and the middle class in particular is merely tied down, chained by its priced possesions, giving up freedom in exchange for meaningless artifacts. The story incorporates many characters on various levels of the societal hierarchy, from the wealthy and famous philospopher who gave up everything when he understood that his teachings were wrong, to the respected police inspector secretly hiding his love for his gay lover, the cigarette butt scavengers, vendors and thieves. A rich background for the mind to comprehend. I would recommend this book to any one who enjoys quality literary fiction with psychological realism flare.

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
By g.zuccarello@unsw.edu.au
The book deals with the scum of the earth. It shows their courage and "honesty" in the face of the hypocricy in the world. The book is a murder mystery of sorts, set in the ghettos of Cairo, Eygpt in the 50's or so. The insights the author brings to the lives of the lowest of the low is not matched by many other authors in any language.



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