Empty Cages

Empty Cages
أقفاص فارغة
(Aqfas farighah)

Written by

(فاطمة قنديل)

Published by


A woman confronts her family’s displacement and dysfunction

The story of a woman growing up in a dysfunctional family as the society around it undergoes a deterioration in its post-colonial circumstances. The story of a single middle-class family comes to represent the challenges faced by patriarchal Egyptian society in the second half of the 20th century. Displacement and migration, neglect and illness, the narrator reflects on the experiences of her family candidly and poetically and in doing so, she unveils the ‘unsaid’ that lies at the core of many Egyptian women’s lives. This raw and unflinching book deals with abuse, illness, and despair with a clear-eyed sincerity and delicacy that is irresistible. Blurring the lines between fiction and memoir, this novel shows the vitality and diversity of Arabic narrative today. A careful and insightful book that holds family trauma up to examination, Empty Cages will resonate with readers around the world.

Approximate number of pages: 255 p.

Foreign rights: contact the publisher


Translation samples


Reasons to publish this book

European readers, like readers around the world, have shown their enthusiasm for life-writing in a variety of forms. This is especially true of stories told by women. Stories of daily life that present the challenges and reality of existing within societies and networks of social relationships resonate with readers today, much more so than programmatic fiction. This book will remind readers of the work of Annie Ernaux and will prove to them that there are many more women’s stories left to tell.


  • English


    by Adam Talib

    published as

    Empty Cages in 2024 by American University in Cairo Press


Confidently weaving the reader into the psychological texture of intimate and fraught relationships, Qandil tells a story of womanhood, family and loss, which will stay with the reader long after the final page by AUC Press, December 2022

Fatma Qandil’s ‘Empty Cages’ Wins 2022 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature by ArabLit, December 2022


Reviewed by Adam Talib