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Candygirl: An Egyptian Novel

M. M. Tawfik
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 226
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Trying to evade intelligence agencies out to assassinate him, the Cerebellum, an Egyptian scientist with a past association with the Iraqi nuclear program, rents a room on the roof of a brothel in a Cairo slum. His interaction with the other residents is limited; instead he spends most of his time in the virtual world, where he has a love affair with candygirl, a gorgeous avatar. On the other side of the planet, an ex-NSA agent has joined a secret organization whose mission is to assassinate Iraqi scientists. He does not allow his doubts about the legality—or the ethics—of his mission to interfere with his work. He chases his victim relentlessly, but when his top-of-the-line equipment fails to locate the Cerebellum in Cairo’s slums, he takes the chase to the virtual world.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-344-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Chapter 1
    (pp. 1-18)

    Upon exiting the bank, Dr. Mustafa Mahmud Korany—a.k.a. the Cerebellum—pauses for a moment. Tucked under his arm is a portfolio that contains what remains of his life savings. He has just closed the CD and cleaned out his account. The sum did not exceed fifteen thousand pounds by much, and all the time he had thought he was well off. From behind eyeglasses that cover half his face, he scans the area with nervous glances. Al-Tahrir Street flows in its usual turbulence, under the gaze of dull gray buildings sprinkled with the signs of doctors’ offices and a...

  3. Chapter 2
    (pp. 19-36)

    “To cut a long story short . . . the pretty miss here is into acting,” the man with the spaceman sunglasses says after a long silence. Then he turns to face the Cerebellum in the seat behind him.

    This comes as no great revelation. As far as he knows, she has actually played a minor role in some sitcom. Didi, after all, is the sister of the late Ahlam Shawarby, the movie star who got herself murdered a few years back. The man’s statement, however, does little to explain what is happening right now. Yet the Cerebellum is somehow...

  4. Chapter 3
    (pp. 37-53)

    As the nighttime call to prayer resounds, the Cerebellum makes a turn into the crooked alley. The muezzin’s voice is untrained. Its natural coarseness is exacerbated by static from the loudspeaker fixed to a balcony railing, next to a string of garlic, a net of onions, and three rows of clothing left out to dry. The laundry is made up of children’s clothes, men’s long-legged Upper Egypt–style underpants, undershirts, and one dark gallabiya. This apartment has no women, or else its inhabitants have an aversion to hanging out women’s clothing in public.

    For the first time since he decided...

  5. Chapter 4
    (pp. 54-75)

    “I hope you have good news for me tonight,” Alpha says as he hangs up his worn bomber jacket. He doesn’t even bother to say hello.

    “Good evening, Alpha. Actually, there’s good news and there’s bad news . . . shall I start with the good?” It’s Martin’s turn to be caustic. The man’s insolent stare really pisses him off. It’s as though he’s blaming him in advance for any possible failure.

    Alpha doesn’t reply. He’s carrying a carton of doughnuts and a paper bag—probably full of sodas. He leaves his stuff in the kitchenette and reappears with a...

  6. Chapter 5
    (pp. 76-89)

    The Cerebellum throws his ivory dice on the table. With the lust of a professional gambler, he listens to their tinkle as they tumble on the metal surface. He bets that he will roll a seven. This can happen if he gets one and six, or two and five, or four and three. One of the dice bumps into the laptop’s edge and comes to rest at two. He holds his breath. If the other one stops at five, he will have won. The second die bounces on the uneven surface and finally comes to a standstill at the very...

  7. Chapter 6
    (pp. 90-100)

    The Cerebellum stands in the middle of the room with both arms crossed over his chest, like an Egyptian mummy. Before him, on the bed, is a traditional brown cloak embroidered in gold thread. He has spread it out over the blanket to take a better look at it. The contrast between its fine soft wool and the coarse, worn-out blanket could not be more pronounced. It must have cost Zakzuka an arm and a leg. But if he decides to wear it, where will that take him? This whole story stinks from the start. He smiles; at least she...

  8. Chapter 7
    (pp. 101-117)

    Working on Sundays is a curse. Not just occasionally to catch up on work, but every Sunday of every week. And not just Sundays, but Saturdays, Mondays, and every other day. With no holidays and not a single day off, with no end in sight. Even when you have the flu and are running a fever. It’s merciless, really. Knowing everyone else is relaxing. The pious go to church. Regular guys just wake up late. Laze around with their kids. Cuddle the family dog. Go outside to mow the lawn if the weather is fine. Make love with their wives...

  9. Chapter 8
    (pp. 118-135)

    As usual, she is relaxing in her lounge chair. Her orange hair cascades over her breasts, intensifying their seduction. Her electronic figure is perfectly shaped, and, more importantly, eternal. She will never grow old or get sick. People know no fear here. They experience no stress, hunger, overeating, or stomachache. This place is anchored in stability. Everything is constant. What does it matter if its very existence is an illusion?

    You said: I have been thinking about you, every second. The external world’s ugliness grows by the day. What is important is not to allow such trivial matters to come...

  10. Chapter 9
    (pp. 136-151)

    “I think I’m a Qur’anist.” Tahir nods to make his point.

    “What is a Qur’anist?” the Cerebellum asks absentmindedly. The kid’s odd statement has taken him by surprise.

    “I’m not sure. But if the government throws them in jail, they must be doing something right.” The youth’s smile is tentative. His body is relaxed on the Cerebellum’s bed, which, today, he has carefully made. His expression, though, is anything but relaxed.

    They met about ten minutes ago. The Cerebellum was leaving Condoleezza’s room, and he found Tahir standing silently on the landing. He brought him over to his place on...

  11. Chapter 10
    (pp. 152-168)

    The rhythm could bring you back from the dead. As for the living, they are simply compelled to join the dance. This music liberates the soul from all constraints, cleanses the psyche from every complex. Latin dancing is one continuous chain, composed of rings of interlocking pleasure. The merengue lures you to the salsa. The rumba leads to the tango. The samba seduces you all the way to the lambada. You feel completely enveloped by its unabashed sensuality. The laser beams showering you are rose pink, pistachio green, electric blue. Their playful flashes numb your senses. The spotlights drop vertical...

  12. Chapter 11
    (pp. 169-187)

    They call me the Cerebellum.”

    The statement reverberates across the farthest reaches of the parallel universe. It sends the electrons of the IT world into fits of vibrations. Electromagnetic waves pulsate with its every syllable, circumnavigating planet Earth in the blink of an eye. With its unique intelligence value, there is no way it can escape the sharp eyes of surveillance hawks. The information highway is not devoid of intersections. These are the very joints controlled by the servers of U.S. companies. They single out the Cerebellum’s words from the billions of signals racing through, like a hen picking up...

  13. Chapter 12
    (pp. 188-204)

    A few minutes ago, inside Ataba Metro station, the Cerebellum split with Tahir and Condoleezza. The plan requires each of the two parties to hit the street from their designated exit.

    The moment the Cerebellum forsakes the relative security afforded him by the bowels of the earth and comes out into daylight, the sun’s rays wreak havoc on his eyesight and he loses concentration. The physical sensation of being off balance is made worse by the moral burden laid squarely on his shoulders. At least he has freed himself of any remaining hesitation or fear. After a lifetime of disorientation,...

  14. Chapter 13
    (pp. 205-214)

    Only one move spells the difference between success and disaster. The lesson he’s learned from the game of FreeCell spins in Martin’s mind. The problem is, the player can rarely see the full picture when he must make his critical decision. He has no choice but to depend on his instincts, his gut feelings, luck, or all of the above. The difficulty he’s been facing in the past few moments, just to figure out what exactly is happening from his vantage point in the Ghost Center, has raised his level of anxiety. The central screen is dark. It is fed...

  15. glossary
    (pp. 215-220)