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This paper examines Amad Khālid Tawfīq’s 2008 novel Yūtūbiyā [Utopia] in light of the many literary allusions made by one of its narrators. The novel throws two problematic and unappealing but consistent and vivid characters together in the dystopia that is Cairo in 2020 after the end of the petroleum economy. Tawfīq’s Egypt represents a cognitively plausible extrapolation from current conditions—class inequality, corruption, and brutality. We can learn to read Utopia less as the tale of two psychologically realistic characters and more as the tale of class differences in an extrapolation from Egyptian society. This opens up to us an understanding of the indictment of Egypt’s intellectual class that lies underneath the surface narrative. Utopia reflects upon the conditions that in a few years would lead to the street protests of 2011-12; it also shows, well before the fact, that such protests would only lead to further consolidation of power by the authoritarian regime.


Originally published in:

Ian Campbell. “Prefiguring Egypt’s Arab Spring: Allegory and Allusion in Aḥmad Khalid Tawfīq’s Utopia,” Article. # 127 November 2015, pp. 541-556 Science Fiction Studies.

Posted with the permission of the publisher.