Nobody Mourns the City’s Cats

Nobody Mourns the City’s Cats
(working title)
لا أحد يرثي لقطط المدينة
(La ahad yarthi li qitat al madina)

Written by

(محمد الحاج)

Published by


Exploring Cairo through love stories that failed by a hair

This book is a collection of six stories that take place in Cairo after the summer of 2013, when the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi, closing de facto the cycle of protests that followed the 2011 revolution. Each story revolves around a couple from a middle class background, exploring the expectations, dreams and memories of its characters as they navigate the city’s streets, struggling with feelings of nostalgia, regret, loneliness and with the context of security of these years. They relentlessly wonder why their relationships seem to be hanging by a string, about how to start anew in the aftermath of a break-up, or a political defeat. The city of Cairo emerges as a significant character, if not the main character, in all these relationships, imposing its rhythm, its atmosphere and certain forms of sociability. El Hajj delicately mixes naturalistic and poetic descriptions of places, slight touches of irony and romance, focusing rather on moods and emotions than on dramatic events. The use of Egyptian dialect in the dialogues reinforces both the vivid style of the narration and the contemporary dimension of the stories.

Approximate number of pages: 160 p.

Foreign rights: contact the publisher


Reasons to publish this book

The way the short stories depict the aspiration of a generation from a certain social background in the aftermath of a failed revolution, by mixing the personal and the political, is moving; even heartbreaking. Furthemore, the fact that Cairo appears as a character in itself, each time related to specific moods, is indeed one of the most striking aspects of the book, immersing readers in the contemporary atmosphere of the city.

Prizes and awards

  • Nobody Mourns the City’s Cats won the Sawiris Cultural Award in the short story (Emerging Writers) category in 2019


Out of Egypt by BULAQ, May 2021 (podcast)

Special Limited Publication: Stories from Muhammad al-Hajj’s ‘Nobody Mourns the City’s Cats’ by ArabLit, April 2019

Jostling his way through the painfulness of endings and new beginnings, tackling themes such as imprisonment, immigration and heartbreak, El-Hajj brilliantly compresses the aspirations of a generation of failed revolutionaries, deprived of their dreams by Mada Masr, February 2019

Reviewed by Pierre Girard