Lush, sensuous, unabashedly romantic, and richly drawn, Jasmin Attia’s The Oud Player of Cairo evokes with passion and precision a bygone world, a culture’s struggle, and one extraordinary woman’s erotic and political awakenings.

Joy Castro, author of One Brilliant Flame

The Oud Player of Cairo

Vibrantly descriptive and evocative of the waning colonial world in Egypt during the mid-20th century, this debut historical novel by Jasmin Attia is the compelling story of a young Egyptian woman, Laila, who defies the restrictive traditional roles set for women of that time, and instead follows the path inspired by her musician father, a much-beloved oud player, to become a singer and performer in her own right.

This rich and passionate novel affords a total immersion in the life of a great city in a time historic transition—its foods, its fashions, its traditions, its class divisions—and in the heart and mind of its gifted and determined heroine. The Oud Player of Cairo is an ambitious and assured debut.

David Gates, author of Jernigan, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

A novel that's both emotionally rich and scrupulously researched, The Oud Player of Cairo evokes a vanished time and place: The last years of colonial Egypt, a city and a nation on the precipice of colossal change. This book is about music and love and family bonds, about a complex society that battles over wealth and power and privilege, about an individual woman's struggle to chart her own path through the world. It's brilliantly rendered. Twenty-two years pass over the course of its pages, but those decades feel like the blink of an eye.

Pauls Toutonghi, author of Evel Knievel Days and Dog Gone
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