"The Egyptian Assassin" by Ezzedine C. Fishere Is An Ambitious Thriller That Doesn't Quite Hit Its Mark
by Rana Asfour
Shortlisted for the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, ‘The Egyptian Assassin’ by Ezzedine C. Fishere is a novel published by Hoopoe & translated from the Arabic by award-winning Jonathan Wright.
The 2019 thriller centres around lawyer-turned-terrorist, Fakhereddine, who is catapulted on a mission traversing Cairo, Sudan, Paris and Afghanistan written by a Middle East political insider.
Once an idealistic young lawyer, seeking to fight corruption from his modest quarter of Cairo, he is now on the run after a botched attempt on his life. After two years in Paris, extenuating events lead him to a jihadi training camp in Afghanistan where he is transformed into a trained killer while never once losing sight of his goal to return home & seek revenge on those who ruined his life.
Here’s what the judges’ panel of the Banipal Prize said of the novel:
‘...Behind the high-octane caper, however, lies a more serious narrative, exploring themes of global politics and finance and of radicalisation in contemporary autocratic states. Fishere’s novel touches on issues of corruption, fundamentalism, fatherly love and the catastrophic effects of violence on the human spirit."
Although I didn’t ‘love’ the novel, I do think it’s worth giving it a go. It’s in a genre & style one doesn’t come across often in Arabic lit. That said, I personally found certain parts long, a bit too diary-esque to my liking & certain details quite far fetched even for a fictitious tale. There are two romantic threads in there that I found didn’t sit well with me: one I found close to a stereotypical depiction of women in a 70s Egyptian film (not a compliment by the way) & the other one left me baffled as to its purpose in the story other than to pander to Western expectations of fiction that comes out from the Middle East.
For once, I hope I’m wrong on both counts.
Read it & let’s talk!