There were few, if any, bookstores in Cairo that did not, in 2013, have a section designated to a category of books labelled adab sākhir. Their titles play on humor and familiar Egyptian references; they are often in the vernacular – ʿāmmiyya – and sometimes repeated in ‘Franco-Arabic’. In 2014, I was told that adab sākhir was a popular genre in the years leading up to the 2011 revolution, and right after it, but that there seemed to be a growing interest for different types of novels.1 The new wave of adab sākhir in Egypt did perhaps reach a ‘peak’ a few years ago, as Jacquemond (2016:356) reports that it meets competition from other “genres of ‘popular’ literature” such as romance and horror.
Nonetheless, the (re)emergence of this genre and the tendency for it being written entirely or partly in the vernacular is worth some focus. In this chapter, I will present some ways in which the Egyptian vernacular (ʿāmmiyya) and Standard Arabic ( fuṣḥā) are used in adab sākhir, based on 21 books published between 2011 and 2014, as well as some motivations for using ʿāmmiyya, as presented by writers. First, we will take a look at what lies in the label which these books have been given.
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