Noir poem set in downton Cairo: The Apartment in Bab el-Louk

  • TitleThe Apartment in Bab el-Louk
  • AuthorDonia MaherGanzeer (Illustrator), Ahmad Nady (Illustrator)
  • Genre: Graphic Novel, Middle Eastern
  • Publication Date:  April 2018
  • Publisher: Darf Publications
  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars


A noir poem set in downtown Cairo, The Apartment in Bab el-Louk is a vignette of observations and thoughts of a recluse who peeps through their window at men yelling in the street or scurries through their neighborhood when needed.

I’m not sure I liked it completely as I wanted more depth, but simultaneously, I think the book has depth, but it went over my head because I don’t know what it’s like to live in Cairo.

There was a sense of monotony, yet dread, throughout the book, but I can’t put my finger on it. I got the sense there’s a militia that keeps people in line, and there’s seeming poverty that has little boys begging on the street, even though their mother works.

I want more. I want a deeper glimpse into this recluse’s life, into life in downtown Cairo, in what the authors know about a life I’ll likely never live. The recluse is nosy, and I get the sense they (not sure of gender) sees and understands much more than is let on.

Most of the book is a series of scenes and reflections on those scenes, starting from the apartment itself, which is bug-infested, to the streets of Cairo and its shops. I never understand why the recluse is a recluse, and I don’t get a sense of age. The character itself is mysterious, which I think adds to the tone of the book.

A short read with lovely illustrations, some of which have Arabic text (which I loved), The Apartment in Bab el-Louk is worth your hour.

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