I just finished reading this novelette called A Dead Djinn in Cairo by Afro-Carribean-American speculative fiction writer, P. Djeli Clark. A detective story with a female lead (with some hints of alternate gender/sexuality) set in steampunk fantasy / magical realist Cairo where djinns, angels, and ghouls roam freely, mentions of alchemy and magic that could drive out the colonisers? Yes, indulge me, please!
I stumbled upon it accidentally after seeing someone else’s tweet (remember the ‘shoulder rubbing in Twitter‘?) about the book and headed to Amazon to find it on sale for £0.98. Only after telling about 20 friends about the book, I found the novelette is actually published for free on Tor.
There was a blog I had been reading somewhere starting 2006 — those years where we still own our own writing platforms of some kind, there was less data tracking (or we weren’t quite aware of it or it hasn’t become an evil entity as corporations gain monopoly) and not resorting to publish on community-driven platforms (see: Medium) and RSSes were still cool — which encouraged its readers to just blog the excerpts in the dog-eared pages of the books they have read. Hashtags weren’t invented yet, so Blog All Your Dog-Eared Pages were documented and indexed in categories and tagged sections of blogs. Maybe that is something I should resume doing too.
Some dog-eared (more like highlighted because I read it on Kindle) pages from A Dead Djinn in Cairo:
And her father always said if people were going to stare, you should give them a show.
“Anyway, when I bought my first suit, the English tailor asked me why I wanted it. I told him I wanted to look exotic.”
First unwritten rule of investigation—when in need of information, make sure you flatter your source.
If the arrival of djinn, alleged angels, and magic into the world had made many more faithful, it had led to a questioning of faith for others.
Behind that motherly face was a steel mind that worked like a fine-tuned mechanism.
I have never been to Cairo, but I have been reading writings that speak of and paint great fondness of the energetic city in many ways. Alif the Unseen, The City Always Wins, and of course, from Edward Said.
Quite sad that in real life, it isn’t quite a safe city to travel to as a woman and especially a solo traveler. I wish it would change one day.