An epic, multi-perspective page-turner, Doma Mahmoud's debut introduces readers to a bold and inventive new voice in fiction as Cairo's streets burst to life on the page.
Sherif "Sheero" Abdallah is an NYU student reveling in independence, free from the judgmental gaze of his conservative family in Egypt to indulge in all sorts of pleasures. When the FBI comes knocking on his door, he's convinced it's a case of mistaken identity--until they show him a picture of his cousin Amir. Amir has perpetrated a horrific attack and Sheero is suddenly forced to return to Cairo and confront the events that led to their wildly different circumstances.
While Amir wore Sheero's hand-me-downs and suffered at the hands of neglectful, abusive parents, Sheero attended Cairo's most prestigious high school, where he and his best friend Taymour, the son of one of Cairo's business moguls, could enjoy sports clubs, beach vacations, high-end dining, and socializing with girls from the French and British schools. Once inseparable cousins, Sheero and Amir grew further apart, Amir ultimately having more in common with the children of Taymour's housekeeper: Omar, Mustafa, and Zeina.
In Cairo Circles, the lives of this unforgettable group of six young Egyptians intertwine dramatically over the course of over a decade, revealing complex relationships dominated by faith, tradition, social class, and the boundaries of personal freedom.
Praise for Cairo Circles
"CAIRO CIRCLES is a novel that proves literature needn’t choose between pleasure and substance. You will tear through the pages of this delicious book, and you will be changed in the process. Doma Mahmoud is a tremendous writer."
—Jonathan Safran Foer, author of 'Everything is Illuminated'
"CAIRO CIRCLES is a deft meditation on how family and class can brighten and distort life's trajectory and force us to grapple with how closely origin and desire are intertwined."
—Raven Leilani, author of 'Luster'
"Doma Mahmoud masterfully weaves together four Cairo families, separated by social class, whose lives intersect over decades in scenes that are among the most memorable and moving I’ve ever read. It is a rare relief to see their lives (ones not often written about) handled with such sharp and delicate nuance. A stunning novel about the difficulty of forgiving our kin, and ultimately, ourselves for our part, real or imagined, in shaping their choices. Mahmoud writes with such insistent and fierce compassion that it is impossible to read CAIRO CIRCLES without marveling at the opening and cleansing of one’s own heart."
—Fatima Farheen Mirza, author of 'A Place for Us'
"An intricate, moving tale of interlocking lives that winds its way through the diverse traditions and social classes of contemporary Egypt... CAIRO CIRCLES' greatest strength is the way it explores the full meaning of the word 'family': of loyalty, betrayal, inescapable traditions and friendships stronger than blood."
—Anjali Sachdeva, author of 'All the Names They Used for God'
"Interconnected Egyptian families wrestle with how status and religion influence their lives in this stunning debut. As the sons of their twin mothers, Amir and Sheero have a close, if complicated, cousin relationship. In a parallel story, Omar and Mustafa are twin brothers who couldn’t be more different. This novel explores the cultural fabric of Cairo alongside the deep influences of economic class and what people will do to both change and maintain their positions. CAIRO CIRCLES is both beautifully textured and emotionally charged."
—Wendy Jean Fox, BuzzFeed