Winner of the Betty Trask Prize
The City Always Wins is a novel from the front line of a revolution. Deeply enmeshed in the 2011 uprising in Tahrir Square, Mariam and Khalil move through Cairo’s surging streets and roiling political underground, their lives burning with purpose, their city alive in open revolt, the world watching, listening, as they chart a course into an unknown future. They are—they believe—fighting a new kind of revolution; they are players in a new epic in the making.
From the communal highs of night battles against the police to the solitary lows of post-revolutionary exile, Omar Robert Hamilton’s bold debut cuts to the psychological heart of one the key chapters in the twenty-first century. Arrestingly visual, intensely lyrical, uncompromisingly political, and brutal in its poetry, The City Always Wins is a novel not just about Egypt’s revolution, but about a global generation that tried to change the world.
"Explosive . . . The City Always Wins powerfully transmits the hope and despair of Egypt’s Tahrir Square generation, and the bravery and willingness of its members to keep fighting in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Mr. Hamilton plunges us into an important moment in recent history and makes us think about it anew. While the novel’s political message is clear, its tone is never hectoring, and its journalistic attention to detail never didactic . . . one of the defining novels of the Arab Spring."—Toby Lichtig, The Wall Street Journal
"Omar Robert Hamilton's The City Always Wins is a vivid, powerful portrait of Egypt's failed revolution in 2011. Through the eyes of Mariam and Khalil, two young people fighting at the front lines of the revolution in the streets of Cairo and its political underground, The City Always Wins is an urgent and relevant work that captures the realities of class friction, war, torture, and dictatorships."—Jarry Lee, Buzzfeed
“Omar Hamilton brings vividly to life the failed revolution of 2011 on the streets of Cairo, in all its youthful bravery and naive utopianism.”—J. M. Coetzee
“I finished The City Always Wins with fascination and admiration. It gives a picture of the inside of a popular movement that we all saw from the outside, in countless news broadcasts and foreign-correspondent reports, a picture so vivid and powerful that it gives a passionate life and reality to what might have been perceived only as abstract principles. A thousand vivid details imprint themselves on the reader’s memory: it will be a long time before we read anything so skillfully brought to life.”—Philip Pullman
“From the chaos and torment of a revolution and the perpetual struggle with despotism, Omar Robert Hamilton has drawn a novel of great emotional and intellectual power. The City Always Wins is a rare fiction that reminds us, with its wisdom about violence and inequality, grief and loss, how politics is for many today a way to live—and die.”—Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger
“Two reporters covering Egypt after the Arab Spring collide with ignorance, crackdowns, and tragedy . . . A well-informed, earnest tale of life during a flailing revolution.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Forceful, astonishing writing and a piercing insider's look at Egypt's failed revolution."—Library Journal
“A breakneck history of the revolution that began in Tahrir Square . . . Much of Hamilton’s book moves at a blistering pace, and he proves a worthy guide to the notable events captured here.”—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
October 9, 2011
She stopped counting the dead an hour ago. These corridors are so compressed with bodies and rage and grief that something, surely, is going to explode. Everywhere are the cries of a new loss, a...
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