Alaa Abd el-Fattah is arguably the most high-profile political prisoner in Egypt, if not the Arab world, rising to international prominence during the revolution of 2011. A fiercely independent thinker who fuses politics and technology in powerful prose, an activist whose ideas represent a global generation which has only known struggle against a failing system, a public intellectual with the rare courage to offer personal, painful honesty, Alaa’s written voice came to symbolize much of what was fresh, inspiring, and revolutionary about the uprisings that have defined the last decade. Collected here for the first time in English, You Have Not Yet Been Defeated is a selection of his essays, social media posts and interviews from 2011 until the present – pieces written in prison, where he spent most of those years.
You Have Not Yet Been Defeated presents not only a unique account from the frontline of a decade of global upheaval, but a catalogue of ideas about other futures those upheavals could yet reveal. From theories on technology and history to profound reflections on the meaning of prison, Alaa’s is a book about the importance of ideas, whatever their cost.
Accompanying the release of the book, the ICA hosts a conversation between Ahdaf Soueif and Kamila Shamsie about Alaa, his work, his ideas; with readings from Sabrina Mahfouz and Khalid Abdalla; and music from Kareem Samara.
‘The text you are holding is living history.’
‘Don’t read this book to be comforted. Read it to be challenged, terrified, enlightened, moved, and amazed.’
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Ahdaf Soueif is the author of the bestselling The Map of Love (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1999 and translated into more than 30 languages). Her account of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, Cairo: a City Transformed, came out in January 2014. Her collection of essays, Mezzaterra (2004), has been influential and her articles for the Guardian in the UK are published in the European and American press. In 2007 Ms Soueif co-founded the Palestine Festival of Literature which takes place annually in occupied Palestine. In 2020, after serving for 7 years, she resigned from the British Museum Board of Trustees.
Kamila Shamsie is the author of seven novels, which have been translated into over 30 languages. Her most recent novel, Home Fire, won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Booker Prize. One of Granta’s ‘Best of Young British Novelists’, she is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. She grew up in Karachi, and now lives in London.
Sabrina Mahfouz is a writer and performer, raised in London and Cairo. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL) and resident writer at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Her most recent theatre show was A History of Water in the Middle East (Royal Court) and her most recent publications as editor include Smashing It: Working Class Artists on Life, Art and Making it Happen (Saqi) and Poems From a Green and Blue Planet (Hachette Children's).
Khalid Abdalla is an actor, producer, writer and filmmaker. Among his film credits are leading roles in United 93, Green Zone, The Kite Runner, The Narrow Frame of Midnight, and In the Last Days of the City – which he also produced. Upcoming roles include Dodi Fayed in The Crown. He also appeared in the Oscar nominated documentary, The Square. Khalid was a founding member of three collaborative initiatives in Cairo – Cimatheque, Zero Production and Mosireen. Cairo and London are his two cities.
Kareem Samara is a musician, composer, and organizer from London. His practice investigates the intersections of struggles and combines traditional Arabic instruments with electronics to create a unique soundscape of protest. He is a serial collaborator (Smoked Poets, Ryan Harvey) and often composes for various theatres in and around the UK.