Graphic Fiction by
from the French
Albert Cossery's 1955 masterpiece, Proud Beggars, takes place in the slums of Cairo during the last days of World War II. While some residents struggle with oppression, poverty, and corruption, others renounce the hypocrisy of society and embrace their freedom from the material world. Characters include the former university professor Gohar, who has thrown over his previous life to work as a bookkeeper at the brothel and who murders a young prostitute on a whim for drug money; his drug dealer and fellow "proud beggar," Yeghen, who knows Gohar is the murderer and schemes to save him from conviction; the melodramatic revolutionary El Kordi who struggles with his status in society; his girlfriend, the prostitute Naila, whom he plans to save; Set Amina, the madam; and Nour El Din, a corrupt policeman who in the events is made to question his beliefs about social order and responsibility. This extract from the final sections of the graphic version of the novel opens with the characters at the brothel dealing with an undercover policeman disguised as a rich merchant from out of town.
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Translation of effendi, a title used for respect or courtesy.
A respectful term of address for an older woman.
First published in English in Words without Borders' February 2010 issue: (Worth) Ten Thousand Words, Part IV: International Graphic Novels.
From Mendiants et Orgueilleux. Published 2009 by Futuropolis. Copyright 2009 by Futuropolis. By arrangement with the publisher. Rights arranged through Nicolas Grivel for the Sylvain Coissard Agency, France. Translation copyright 2010 by Lulu Norman. All rights reserved.