Author(s): Wendell Steavenson
Travel | No Category
In January 2011, as the crowds gathered to protest Mubarak's three decades of rule in Egypt, Wendell Steavenson went to Cairo to cover the story. But the revolution defied historical precedent, and it defied the templates of storytelling. There was no single villain, no lone hero, no neat conclusion that wouldn't be overturned the next day. Tahrir Square changed its moods like the weather; fickle, violent, hopeful, carnival. As she walks among the tents and the tanks, falling into conversation, sharing cigarettes and cold soda, Steavenson tells the story of a seismic historical moment as it is experienced by ordinary citizens. Here, we meet a young man from the slums with his homemade pistol; a seasoned observer who gives up on analysis; a leader who doesn't want to lead thrust uncomfortably into the spotlight; a Muslim Brotherhood politician trying to smooth over a restless parliament; and a military intelligence officer convinced that only the army can save Egypt. Steavenson captures the cacophony of dizzying events as protests and elections ebbed and flowed around the revolution, tipping it towards democracy and then back into the military's hands.
Mixing reportage and travelogue, Circling the Square shows how the particular and the personal can illuminate more universal questions: what does democracy mean? What happens when a revolution throws everything up in the air?
From the acclaimed New Yorker writer, here is a compelling chronicle of the Egyptian Revolution, from Mubarak's downfall to Morsi's, told through the stories of Egyptians, the activists and those who were indifferent, thugs and elites, liberals and Islamists
WENDELL STEAVENSON has lived in and reported from post-Soviet Georgia, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. She is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Stories I Stole, about post-Soviet Georgia, and The Weight of a Mustard Seed, about life in Saddam's Iraq and the aftermath of the American invasion. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Telegraph, Granta, Slate.com, Time, New Yorker, and other publications. She lives in Paris.