The Lodging House

The Lodging House
وكالة عطية
(Wikalat Atiya)

Written by

(خيري شلبي)

Published by


An expelled student becomes a scam artist in Egypt of the 1950s

The narrator is a young student who gets expelled from the Teachers’ Institute, losing his family support and any hope of becoming a respectable teacher. He lets himself descend into the underworld. Destitute, he seeks refuge in Wikalat ‘Atiya, a historic but now completely run-down caravanserai that has become the home for the town’s marginal and underprivileged characters.  

Through a labyrinth of tales reminiscent of the famous Arab storytelling tradition, we are introduced to these denizens, whose lives oscillate between the real and the fantastic, the contemporary and the timeless. And while the narrator starts out as a spectator of these character’s lives, he soon becomes an integral part of the lodging house’s community of rogues.

We follow the narrator into his adventure until he becomes a professional scam artist travelling all over Egypt and tricking people into giving him their money.

Approximate number of pages: 426 p.

Foreign rights: contact publisher


Reasons to publish this book

This is widely considered one of the most important novels in modern Arabic literature. The humour makes it highly readable and enjoyable. The world and the setting that the writer creates are evocative and fascinating.


  • English


    by Farouk Abdel Wahab

    published as

    The Lodging House in 2006 by AUC Press

Prizes and awards


These two major awards reflect the achievements of Shalaby in writing his remarkable novel by Banipal, 2007

A colourful and often entertaining look at Egyptian life, The Lodging House has considerable appeal by Complete Review, 2006

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