In his newly published novel Papers of a Young Egyptian, Kanawi embarks on the same adventure. While previously examining the characters of the great intellectuals encountered with Abdel Malik, he now makes them the main focus of the book. The Intellectuals focuses on the critical hopes of the great thinker, which resemble injuries almost. In his new work – which was classified as fiction – Kanawi tries to get closer to the ego of his hero: his suffering, and the way he anticipates disaster. But it is impossible not to read the books together. The second feels less passionate, perhaps due to the announcement of the hero's identity which remained mysterious in the first attempt. He documents the broken and marginalised ego striving for a marginal goal. This doesn’t compare to the alter ego of the great thinker, who brags throughout the novel, giving the reader a sense of the Egyptian context.
Kanawi opens his novel with the scene of him leaving Cairo, frustrated with his search for the good life, having considered better opportunities in one of the Gulf states, for example. The novel goes on to explore the hero’s reasons for leaving, and talks about the many crises of the country, the many scars Mubarak left, and problems within communities. Noteworthy here is that the intellectual (Anwar Abdel Malik) seems to touch on the idea of a revolution without really saying it will happen.
Kanawi’s book is not free from bitterness; it mirrors the pain of the ordinary Egyptian. However, the artistic aspect of the book can sometimes obstruct the overall flow because of Kanawi’s tendency to say very little in very many words. The Intellectuals remains an important and unique book which manages to reflect on generational gaps between intellectuals, while The Papers of a Young Egyptian stays as close as it can be to the statement of change.from ahram online.