The City Always Wins (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Omar Robert Hamilton's debut novel follows two young activists, Mariam and Khalil, as they navigate the vicious realities of a political uprising. Set primarily in the streets of Arab Spring-era Cairo, The City Always Wins brilliantly examines the moral complexity inherent to revolution and the impact that has on its participants. This is not a dewy love letter to insurrection; it is brutal, and Hamilton refuses to let his readers rest in the comfort of heroism or cheap glory. The novel's poignancy lies in its unanswered question: is there a limit to how much we should be willing to sacrifice? -Shawn

— From Summer Booknotes 2017

Known as an award-winning Cairo-based (mostly) filmmaker and as co-producer of the Palestine Festival of Literature, Omar Robert Hamilton has written a cathartic debut novel set in Cairo's streets and hideaways during the time of the 2011 Tahrir Square demonstrations and Egypt's larger upheavals. Carrying both urgency and the distilled eye of literature to bear here, Hamilton vividly writes of the struggles these people enact, conveying the scope of lives lived as individuals and families, and the larger social and political fabric that they are part of. Given the state of things as they still are in Egypt, The City Always Wins also acts as an eloquent bearer of witness for what has happened there, with repercussions we increasingly feel here.

— From Rick


Named as one of the Best Books of 2017 by The Boston Globe and The Arts Desk

We've been doing the same thing for hundreds of years. Marching, fighting, chanting, dying, changing, winning, losing . This time will be different. This time the future can still be made new.

The City Always Wins is a novel from the front line of a revolution. Deeply enmeshed in the 2011 uprising in Tahrir Square, Mariam and Khalil move through Cairo's surging streets and roiling political underground, their lives burning with purpose, their city alive in open revolt, the world watching, listening, as they chart a course into an unknown future. They are--they believe--fighting a new kind of revolution; they are players in a new epic in the making.

But as regimes crumble and the country shatters into ideological extremes, Khalil and Mariam's commitment--to the ideals of revolution and to one another--is put to the test.

From the highs of street battles against the police to the paralysis of authoritarianism, Omar Robert Hamilton's bold debut cuts straight from the heart of one of the key chapters of the twenty-first century.Arrestingly visual, intensely lyrical, uncompromisingly political, and brutal in its poetry, The City Always Wins is a novel not just about Egypt's revolution, but also about a global generation that tried to change the world.

About the Author

Omar Robert Hamilton is an award-winning filmmaker and writer. Based in Cairo and New York, he has written for The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and Guernica. He is cofounder of both Mosireen, a Cairo media collective formed in 2011, and the Palestine Festival of Literature. The City Always Wins is his debut novel.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780374123970
ISBN-10: 0374123977
Publisher: MCD
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017
Pages: 320
Language: English