Triggered by the shimmering Hong Kong’s skyline, Ahmed Elbeshlawy remembers the Sheriff from Clint Eastwood’s movie “Unforgiven” asking Strawberry Alice – a prostitute with whom he was arguing after beating a suspect: “Innocent of what?”. “Free of what?”, Ahmed asks the 21st century’s “free thinker” sunk in the world of political correctness, capitalism, multiculturalism, immigration and gender issues.
From smoking in public places and taking selfies to historical figures or characters from movies, his twenty-five essays drive the reader through contemporary social phenomena, stirring literary tropes, poignant cinematic moments and subjective instances shaped by different histories and carrying forward mixed feelings, beliefs and illusions.
To make sense out of these, Ahmed’s writing destabilizes what is usually taken as common sense, unpacking thoughts of European philosophers like Lacan, Derrida, Adorno and Žižek, as well as titans of literature like Shakespeare and Kafka.
Ahmed Elbeshlawy is a scholar of comparative literature. He is the author of “Woman in Lars von Trier’s Cinema” (Palgrave, 2016), “America in Literature and Film” (Routledge, 2011), and various articles and book chapters in “The Palgrave Handbook of Literature and the City” (2016), “Sexuality and Culture” (2014), “The Comparatist” (2008), “Scope” (2008), and “fe/male bodies” (2005, 2006).
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