Homosexuality and youth between Cairo and Ramallah

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“Crime in Ramallah” is a multi-faceted work that makes a comparison with some of our favorite Egyptian works extremely fascinating.

Mix of genres

“Crime in Ramallah” by Abbad Yahya is a book that brings within it many and different literary souls, making it extremely interesting a comparison with various works from the Egyptian world, in particular the Cairo one. It is impossible, in fact, not to see parallels with “Yacoubian Building” by ‘Ala al Aswani for the theme of homosexuality, with “A Well-Trained Stray ” by Muhammad Aladdin as regards the life of Arab youth and finally with “The Nile Hilton Incident ” by Tarik Saleh regarding the crime that gives the novel its name.

The Yacoubian Building

We have already said it in the last article: even if 2/3 of the protagonists are homosexuals, the text does not give you a significant weight, resulting precisely for this reason so revolutionary. It is no coincidence that in “Palazzo Yacoubian”, one of the masterpieces of the early Egyptian “00s, there is a homosexual character, but definitely more” dirty “than Nur and Ra’uf will never be in the whole novel. Hatim, in fact, is a young man from an excellent family who, neglected by his parents, will be raped at the age of 9 by the Nubian servant, thus starting a real relationship with the latter. With the death of his parents, the butler will be removed, but Hatim will be able to use the great inheritance to give free rein to his instincts.


Unlike Abbad Yahya’s novel, in al Aswani’s the homosexual is extremely sexualized, so much so that there are more pages in which the latter has a relationship than those in which he performs other actions. Moreover, Hatim represents the perfect example of the “gay corrupter”, as the character will force the Nubian soldier (married with a son) to have an affair with him in exchange for the promise to favor him in his career. On the contrary, in “Murder in Ramallah” the fact that the two are both men and have an affair together is barely mentioned, moreover Nur’s sexual appetite, certainly the more “lively” of the two, is really a tenth compared to that. tested by Hatim. The two books are obviously written with different purposes, but the hope is that time has also contributed, showing this phenomenon as a condition and no longer as something that leads the entire individual to be “wrong“.

A Well-Trained Stray

The choice of inserting “A Well-Trained Stray” is instead due to the way of narrating the new Arab youth, an undertaking that sees in Muhammad Aladdin and his generation real literary totems. In fact, his text was born with the simple objective of telling the impact of life in Egyptian youth, a social group that is increasingly difficult to grasp for traditional media and which, therefore, acquires its own dimension and its own ethical and moral code. It is no coincidence, in fact, that in “A Well-Trained Stray “, 2 out of 3 characters work with sex and the third is a rich drug addict. In general, the atmosphere that reigns in the work is that of an absolute indifference towards the rest of the world, pushing the protagonists to choose above all comfortable and practical solutions, often giving the idea of “dragging” rather than “moving” classic”.

A Well-Trained Stray

“Crime in Ramallah” perfectly shares its genre but, even here, making him take a next step. The two young people, Nur and Ra’uf, in fact, are completely different from those of “A Well-Trained Stray “, showing, on the contrary, a decidedly not obvious resourcefulness; the second, first of all, will quickly pass from being a maintained student to being able to afford his own accommodation and an ever greater care of clothes and bearing. Having to link it to a genre it is impossible not to associate the book of Yahya with that of Aladdin, but the steps forward of this youth and this context are evident, so much so as to actually represent a novelty.

The Nile Hilton Incident

We hardly spoke about the “thriller” part of the novel, but even the latter deserves a separate mention. With the arrival of the police, in fact, Yahya’s criticisms of the Palestinian authorities, which are represented more than ever paralyzed and ineffective, will become increasingly evident. Since the murder, in fact, one has the feeling that the case is destined and will remain unsolved and, as one progresses in reading, this feeling becomes more alive. Furthermore, the guards will find themselves more often threatening Nur as a homosexual than finding evidence on the case, even showing a not indifferent moral baseness. Frecciatina is also very evident in the comparison of Palestinian psychiatry, completely ineffective in giving relief to Wisam who, not surprisingly, will commit suicide.

The Nile Hilton Incident

With these premises it is then incredibly easy to find analogies with “The Nile Hilton Incident “, one of the best films ever on this subject. As in the book, also in this film the police are shown more immobile than ever, with the only difference that, unfortunately for the Egyptians, the one in Cairo also appears as extremely corrupt, something that is not evident in that of Ramallah.

Final thoughts on “Crime in Ramallah”

When we were handed “Crime in Ramallah”, it was presented to us as a novel that told the story of two Palestinian homosexuals; the truth is, it’s much more complex than that. In fact, the book represents something actually new, capable of merging different genres and giving it a new step. However, it should be noted that, even if these steps forward are evident, it is necessary, in our view, to focus on everything even more.

Crime in Ramallah

As fascinating, in fact, the novel, in our view, is still a bit lacking in a real and tangible fixed point. This enhances the individual stories of the protagonists, but shows a lack of amalgam which, to say, is not lacking in “Yacoubian Building”. It is said that those who get off to a good start are half done, we hope this is the case because the conditions are all there. We infinitely thank Antonino d’Esposito for giving us the book, it was a pleasure to read something so special and interesting.

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