Taxi is a brilliant novel which I enjoyed reading every line of. In this novel, Khaled Al Khamissi reveals the daily lives of taxi drivers who live and work in Cairo; it consists of 58 fictional monologues, each with a different subject matter and argument to it. Each monologue exposes the lives of taxi drivers in Cairo focusing mainly on the negative aspect. Various political, educational, economical and social dilemmas are discussed throughout Taxi. The boldness of Al Khamissi’s writing keeps the reader intrigued and wanting to know more about the corruption that is going on. If you never studied the history of Egypt, this would be the perfect opportunity to learn their history through his story telling.
Several statements moved me deeply as I was reading, statements that vividly described the Egyptians state of mind and mentality. “We’ve become a nation of beggars” is what one of the taxi’s said in the eighteenth monologue. It is heartbreaking to read this, but that’s the truth of their reality. The writer focuses a lot on the issue of bribery; he reveals how in Egypt the citizens have to bribe people of authority in order to get their simplest rights. Monologue number thirty-three tells a story about a taxi driver who got pulled over by a police who took his license over something he didn’t commit. He explains how police officers treat taxi drivers unfairly, he then continues to explain the process of retrieving his license from the traffic department “And the traffic department it’s packed and at every step you have to cough up money and pay bribes, it’s disgusting” . This proves how much of a corrupted system they’re dealing with.
One powerful statement, which was mentioned in the thirty-fourth monologue, seems to sum up the feelings of all taxi drivers working in Cairo. The passenger riding in the taxi referred to what the taxi driver said, “He told me how he once loved Cairo with a passion, then he began to like it, then he began to have conflicting feelings about it, then he disliked it and now he loathed it”. The deterioration in the system of Cairo is wonderfully explained in the previous quote, the driver’s feelings captured what exactly happened to their system.
Since Taxi was originally written in Arabic, Al Khamissi includes footnotes at the end of pages which include Arabic terms that not all readers might understand. Reading the English version of Taxi was delightful but I feel that reading it in Arabic would be even more interesting. Once again, Taxi is a must-read novel! Whether it was the powerful statements regarding the corruption or the way AlKhamissi captured their lives, Taxi is a novel you must not miss out on!
– Fajer Al-Farsi
Taxi is distributed in the following bookstores in the GCC:
Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (Villa 3, Education City)
Barnes Noble Bookstore
Jashanmal & Sons
United Arab Emirates: