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is buried under his favourite café and then recruited by the secret police to eavesdrop on the café’s clientele.

Tamer’s world is not usually a kind one, but the precision of his language, enigmatic style, and frequent black humour, have ensured that these stories are as readable today, both in Arabic and English, as when they were first published – continuing to provide for the non-specialist reader “a revealing peep behind the scenes”, in Johnson-Davies’s words, of a harsh and sometimes puzzling world.

Zakaria Tamer

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 105

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