The Republic of False Truths by Alaa Al Aswany, translated by S. R. Fellowes

Published: 2021 Genre: Historical fiction 1. First lines 2. Cover: Allen and Unwin 3. Anti Morsi Protest in Down Town Cairo 2012 [CC BY 2.0] via flickr

Set in 2011 against the background of the Egyptian revolution, when thousands of people took to the streets to demand the overthrow of the President, this story traces the involvement of key characters: General Ahmad Alwany (Head of National Security) and his daughter Danya, a protester and medical student who defies her father, Ashraf Wissa, a Christian and failed actor, and Asmaa Zansty an English teacher and Mazen a labour organizer at a cement factory. The wife of the factory manager is Nourhan, a TV host who spreads falsehoods about the protesters. Each of these characters has a different role in the revolution, and each one is affected in ways that dramatically change their lives.

The Egyptians live in the Republic of False Truths. They live in a mass of lies that they treat as if they were true.”

  • This story is told from many different angles from a variety of vividly portrayed characters, and it was the characters that kept me interested. But perhaps too much variety?
  • Guardian: “This fictionalised account of the Egyptian uprising of 2011 has an eye for telling detail in the choice between struggle and self-preservation … The Republic of False Truths is a glorious, humane novel that chronicles the failure of a revolution and its personal cost without ever quite extinguishing hope of a better future.”
  • Kirkus:A flawed but valuable fictional reckoning with a failed revolution.”


“Essam viewed religion as follows: all religions begin as folklore, and with time acquire sanctity because people need to have faith in the unknown in order to put up with their hardships and sense of injustice.”

“The very idea of a revolution happening was demolishing his theory about the submissiveness of Egyptians and their capacity to coexist with tyranny.”

“I really am ‘nothing’ and all the young people who took part in the revolution are ‘nothing'”

Author: Alaa Al Aswany

Also published by Penguin Random House

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