Houman Barekat

Hope Springs Eternal

The City Always Wins

By

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‘Record, splice, upload. No time for artistry. And no need either.’ Omar Robert Hamilton’s storytelling technique mirrors that of his protagonist, Khalil, a young film-maker documenting the convulsions of the Arab Spring and its aftermath alongside other members of an independent media collective in Cairo. The form and structure of this compelling debut novel evoke a sense of real-time reportage, presenting its narrative as a series of taut and urgent date-stamped dispatches. An exchange between two journalists, debating the most effective way of dramatising the upheavals on film, reads like a meta-commentary on Hamilton’s own creative process. When one asks, ‘How do you hold it together without a hero?’, the other replies, ‘Time. Or some theme ties each scene together. And in the end you have forty, fifty scenes that – taken all together – give you the picture.’

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