In 2002, literacy was at an all-time low in Egypt, revolution was a few short years away, and Nadia Wassef opened an independent bookstore named Diwan in Cairo. With her sister Hind and her friend Nihal, Wassef built an oasis for lovers of the written word, whether Arabic, English, French, or German. Diwan now has seven locations—and two mobile book trucks—having survived recessions, censorship, misogyny, and political turmoil. Wassef joins the podcast to talk about the story of the store in her new book, Shelf Life.
Go beyond the episode:
- Nadia Wassef’s Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller
- If you’re ever in Egypt, visit Diwan
- Read your way through Egypt with these recommendations in The Guardian
- Dive into the golden age of Egyptian cinema, or watch Souad, the first film by a female Egyptian director to be screened at Cannes
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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