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“La settima sigaretta” by Dunia Kamal is a novel capable of bringing the reader back to Tahrir square in 2011 and making him travel in the sentimental evolution of Nadia, the protagonist
“La settima sigaretta”
Thirty-year-old Nadia reflects on her childhood and adolescence in a very particular moment of her life and her country, a rather unstable and uncertain historical period. Through the memories of the protagonist, the author accompanies us slowly in the daily life of Nadia’s little world: from the hours spent cooking with her grandmother when she was a child, to the men she loved and lost, up to the relationship with her father and the absent mother, and the cautious participation in the Egyptian revolution. In a narrative with intimate tones and interspersed with the chronicle of Nadia’s participation in the 18 days of Tahrir, the author manages to focus on the origin and background of the young people who made the 2011 revolution, bringing the reader to live together with them the great hopes that guided them, the tragic frustration that hit them and the feeling of having left something unfinished, to be finished.
Sentimental Education and Revolution
The book tells the story of Nadia and the Revolution in Tahrir square, constantly alternating the revolutionary adrenaline with an intimate journey into the protagonist’s memories, going de facto to explore her relationship with the other sex. Said like this it may seem something “alluring”, but the text is decidedly deeper and more intimate, also touching every sentimental sphere, including the paternal one. The novel in fact tells the evolution of Nadia’s relationship with the whole male gender, starting with an immature boyfriend, then moving on to an overly mature lover and ending with her father.
For reasons that I cannot tell you, the relationship between the latter and the Revolution will take on invisible but decisive connotations for the evolution of the protagonist who, precisely during the most agitated phases of Tahrir, will, in a certain sense, reach her own “personal enlightenment” .
How to stay in the square
The whole novel is very well written, but, personally, the part I appreciated most was the one relating to the Revolution itself, described here masterfully; while reading “La settima sigaretta” one gets the impression of being right in the square with those who really made a miracle. The rhythm is frenetic and constant, carrying all the adrenaline and uncertainty of those moments in the pages of the text, thus giving a glimpse of that historical moment from the inside.
All the “square anecdotes” are really interesting, as they not only show more than ever the incredible humanity of the Egyptian people, but also give a touch of authenticity that is truly rare and that ennobles the whole story. When he talks about the Dunia Revolution, Kamal really manages to bring the reader back to Tahrir, making him savor all the fatigue, effort and grandeur of those days, mostly lived by “normal” men and women who knew how to believe in a dream.
In the mind of a young Egyptian revolutionary
The text turns out to be more interesting than ever if you want to fully immerse yourself in the 2011 Tahrir square, described here in an almost perfect and incredibly compelling way; But it’s not just this. Inside “La settima sigaretta” you will find the story of Nadia and her personal growth, which will find her turning point in the very excited days of the Revolution.
The pace is really frenetic, continuously alternating the two stories, which will be reunited only at the end by an incredible unexpected. To my taste, the gap between the two stories could have been measured a little better, but the novel is still one of the most interesting as regards the Revolution in Tahrir Square.
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