Suzanne Mubarak’s literary career

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It has been an interesting year for Suzanne Mubarak. On Jan. 1, she was the first lady of Egypt. A few weeks later her husband fell out of favor and lost his longtime job. He’s no longer the president, so she’s no longer the first lady.

Things went from bad to worse for Hosni Mubarak. He’s being investigated in Egypt in connection with accusations of financial wrongdoing and has been hospitalized since last month for what has been termed ‘health complications.’ On Friday, Suzanne herself was ordered detained for at least 15 days as part of the financial inquiry. Later that day, she was hospitalized with what media reports said was a possible heart attack. As of this writing, she’s still hospitalized, but on Monday, according to Reuters news agency, she apparently relinquished some of her assets to the state.


In some countries -- including the United States -- an arrest or detention order followed by a health crisis might spur interest in the career of a public figure such as Suzanne Mubarak, especially if she has a new book ready for publication.

That book is ‘Read Me a Book: The Story of Egypt’s First Lady and Her Grandson’ and, according to the catalog of her publisher, the American University of Cairo Press, it is her ‘personal chronicle of a child’s intellectual and emotional growth through reading.’ The book’s description notes that her grandson ‘died tragically at the age of twelve.’ A quick check in our files found that Mohammed Mubarak died on May 18, 2009, after being rushed to Paris for emergency care following what was termed ‘a health crisis lasting two days.’

Even though Suzanne Mubarak got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the American University in Cairo, the AUC Press is no mere vanity publisher. Its spring catalog, which listed her book and showed her smiling picture, also includes some excellent work by the late Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz and novelist Alaa Al Aswany’s analytical work, ‘On the State of Egypt: What Made the Revolution Inevitable.’

Since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak husband after 30 years in power, the nation has ordered the removal of the former first couple’s names and images from all public institutions, including libraries.

Which brings us back to her book. If libraries won’t allow her image, what about her book? A New York representative for the American University of Cairo Press said by email that the book is ready to go to press but that the publication date has been delayed, at Suzanne Mubarak’s request, until autumn. And it may need a new title: ‘Read Me a Book: The Story of Egypt’s First Lady and Her Grandson’ seems to have been overtaken by events.

Jacket Copy is generally pro book, so we hope it comes out, if only that it may shed more light on the Mubarak family.

-- Jon Thurber