The Quail's Journey


Ahram Weekly
Mahmoud El-Wardani
quail journey a novel by sahar tawfik

Rehlet as-siman (The Quail's Journey), Sahar Tawfiq, Cairo: Merit, 2005. pp234

Egyptian fiction writer Sahar Tawfiq's books have been rather few and far between: having produced a novel and a collection of short stories in the early 1970s, it took her almost 20 years to complete a second novel, which appeared in the 1990s. This is all the more reason, then, to be grateful for this new novel, which nevertheless seems to have been written against the grain. The novel breathes an atmosphere of disillusionment, recounting the fates of its characters as they move through the changes of almost a quarter of a century. A typical passage is as follows: "'What are you going to do with all these things?' He looked at me for a while, and then he said: 'I'm not going to sell them. But this is not only a matter of not selling them. Beautiful things must be treasured. I'll keep this at the house: perhaps I'll use it as a vase. As for the frog, I'll keep in the drawer of my desk'"