Omar Robert Hamilton's debut, The City Always Wins, was published by Faber & Faber last week and has already inspired some fantastic reviews.
'What do you do when the world stops moving forward?’ That despairing question lies at the heart of this remarkable debut novel, set in Cairo during the doomed Egyptian revolution of 2011. For young, idealistic lovers Khali and Mariam, the overthrow of President Mubarak seems to usher in a new era in the history of their country, with Cairo reinventing itself as the New York of the Middle East. Alas, revolution is followed swiftly by bitter disillusionment – a rollercoaster emotional journey that Robert Hamilton, drawing on first-hand experience, captures with thrilling immediacy.' Mail on Sunday
'Takes you to the heart of the action as the activists attempt to dodge bullets while throwing stones at the authorities. Hamilton, founder of the Mosireen Collective in Cairo, a non-profit media collective charting events during and after the Arab Spring, shows the impact of new media on the movement.' Daily Record
'There is no shirking the grim realities in this profoundly moving work, which opens in a morgue and is ultimately an elegy, not just for the loss of revolutionary hopes, but also youth and young love.' Belfast Telegraph
'Rarely does a debut novel arrive as fully realised and confidently written as Omar Robert Hamilton's The City Always Wins, the tale of an activist couple caught up in, and captivated by, the Arab Spring. After reading a few pages I had to double check it really was Hamilton's first novel, so sure-footed and pitch-perfect was his description of the enchanting and chaotic 'jazz' of Cairo ("all contrapuntal influences jostling for attention, occasionally brilliant solos standing high above the steady rhythm of the street"). Equally evocative are his close-ups of the blurred panicky horror of army attacks on street protesters, and the raging grief which weaves through the piles of dead bodies filling hospital corridors in the aftermath.
Hamilton shares with the likes of Colum McCann and Jay Mclnerney a gift for providing for his drama a landscape which sizzles with life and heat and energy...
Those readers interested in an authentic street-level view of the seismic events of the 2011 Egyptian revolution will not be disappointed; this communique offers embedded access, as stark, violent and coruscating as any of Lara Logan's dispatches. But like all good stories set to real-life backdrops, The City Always Wins is so much more than fictionalised reportage. Through an immersive stream of consciousness - its appropriately frenzied, breathless rush punctuated by tweets and newspaper headlines - Hamilton gives us the novelistic version of a personal smartphone video missive, sent out to the world in a cry for help and understanding. There is real emotional payback too; through the story of Egyptian revolutionary Mariam and impassioned Palestinian protester Khalil, we track the Arab Spring's initial leap of zeal and hope as it slows down and staggers towards heartbreak. This novel is more than a well-executed modern history lesson. It is a chronicle of injustice, betrayal and sadness. And it's much more satisfying for it.' Big Issue