Novels of Egypt with a Perceptive Eye: Amelia and Emerson, the Mamur Zapt, and Fatma

Georgie Schnobrich
Not every novelist was into Egyptomania’s exotic sensationalism; some have been in love with a more down to earth fictional Egypt, with real culture and historical people. Peters, a.k.a. Barbara Michaels, (1927-2013) had a Ph.D in Egyptology and an interest in Egypt’s history and geology–but she was also a romance writer. Many of the romance tropes are spoofed here for the general enjoyment, but respect is given where it belongs, and the results are fun. Pearce (1933-2022) was born in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, and later returned to the area to teach, and was concerned with
human rights. He became an administrator, and so could claim knowledge of the Byzantine bureaucracy his characters deal with. The stories take us through Egypt’s changes from 1907 to 1920. Pearce builds his scenes through amusing and wry conversations with every sort of person, from pashas to business women, to donkey boys. Clark, a.k.a. Dexter Gabriel (1971), was born in New York, grew up in Tobago and Trinidad, and is currently an assistant History Professor at the University of Connecticut. The name Djeli refers to West African storytellers. His novel, “A Dead Djinn in Cairo,” won the Locus and Nebula Awards in 2021.