Metro A Story of Cairo

Magdy El Shafee, translated by Chip Rossetti

Metropolitan Books



Trade Paperback

112 Pages



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When Shehab, a young software designer, runs afoul of a loan shark, all avenues of escape in Mubarak's corrupt, chaotic Egypt seem to be closed to him. Getting help from the bank is impossible without connections, and Shehab's uncle abroad wants nothing to do with his troubles. A powerful businessman offers assistance, but the next day Shehab sees him being stabbed in an alley—and the man's dying words suggest a conspiracy extending to the upper reaches of the regime.

Angry and broke, Shehab enlists his friend Mustafa in a bank heist—and falls into a vortex of financial and political corruption. On the run with a case full of money and evidence of murder, the two careen through Cairo's metro system, evading the police and the thugs who are out in force to crush antigovernment protests. The only allies who can help get them out of this mess, the friends realize, are a blind shoe-shine man and a muckraking journalist.

In art as pulsing and immediate as Cairo itself, Magdy El Shafee has delivered a prescient portrait of a crumbling society and Egypt's coming eruption. A powerful story of young men with nothing left to lose, Metro sounds the cry for a better, freer future.


Praise for Metro

"There are twists and turns, murders and shadowy conspiracies . . . The Byzantine plot is saturated with a political commentary on the state of today's Egypt, depicted as a deeply dysfunctional country whose citizens take government corruption and repression as a given."—The National (Abu Dhabi)

"A visual record of the zeitgeist, filled with poverty, sexual frustration, corruption, and abuse . . . Part thriller, part love story, part socio-political commentary."—Daily News Egypt

"Young software genius Shebab longs to escape the social constraints of modern Cairo while also trying to avoid an irate a loan shark. A way out comes when a local businessman offers him work, but that hope is snuffed when Shebab and his friend Mustafa witness the man's murder. The man's cryptic dying words set the two friends on a trail of political corruption and intrigue, while they also commit a bank robbery in a desperate effort to fund a reboot of their directionless lives. El Shafee strives for an insightful look at modern metropolitan Egypt . . ."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Magdy El Shafee, translated by Chip Rossetti

  • Born in Libya in 1961, Magdy El Shafee is an Egyptian cartoonist, writer, and illustrator who has also worked in the pharmaceutical industry. In 2006, UNESCO honored El Shafee's comics series "Yasmin and Amina," written with writer Wa'el Saad and published in the weekly Alaa Eddin, for its depiction of migration and racism. Metro, which addresses Egyptian corruption, poverty, and injustice, was banned on publication in 2008 for "offending public morals" and is unavailable in Arabic. It is El Shafee's first full-length book. He lives in Cairo, where he edits El Doshma, a comics journal for young adults, and is working on his next graphic novel.

  • Magdy El Shafee Magdy El Shafee