Synopses & Reviews
Summoned home to Egypt after a long European debauch (disguised as “study”), our hero Teymour—in the opening line of A Splendid Conspiracy—is feeling “as unlucky as a flea on a bald man’s head.” Poor Teymour sits forlorn in a provincial café, a far cry from his beloved Paris. Two old friends, however, rescue him. They applaud his phony diploma as perfect in “a world where everything is false” and they draw him into their hedonistic rounds as gentlemen of leisure. Life, they explain, “while essentially pointless is extremely interesting.” The small city may seem tedious, but there are women to seduce, powerful men to tease, and also strange events: rich notables are disappearing.
Eyeing the machinations of our three pleasure seekers and nervous about the missing rich men, the authorities soon see—in complex schemes to bed young girls—signs of political conspiracies. The three young men, although mistaken for terrorists, enjoy freedom, wit, and romance. After all, though “not every man is capable of appreciating what is around him,” the conspirators in pleasure certainly do.
"The idleness of young men finds devilish outlets in this queasy novel by late Egyptian author Cossery (1913 2008). A young rake, having left home six years before, ostensibly to study abroad, reluctantly returns to his un-named provincial Egypt hometown at the behest of his father. However, young Teymour, who never enrolled in a university and bought a fake diploma, finds plotting seductions of young girls with his old friends much more fun than working in the family business, and soon Teymour and his friends, Medhat and Imtaz, are acting as procurers of schoolgirls for a rich dupe named Chawki. Throw in a flimsy element of mystery involving the inexplicable disap-pearance of certain prominent male citizens, a police chief who suspects the young idlers of plotting rebellion, and a thriving brothel with a bawdy advertising campaign, and you've got a prurient, over-the-top throwback that's some-times hard to take seriously. Fluidly translated, this novel reads much like a horny old goat's fantasy, and its appeal will likely be limited to the Henry Miller set." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Three friends in a small Egyptian city celebrate idleness, elegance, and joie de vivre.
About the Author
Albert Cossery (1913-2008), "the Voltaire of the Nile," wrote eight books about the life of the common people in his native Egypt and was first published in the 1940s by New Directions. His work is both a celebration and a lament: as he put it, "So much beauty in this world and so few eyes to see it."Alyson Waters teaches at Yale and won a PEN Translation Fund Award prize for her translation of Albert Cossery's The Colors of Infamy.