A visionary work from a remarkable new voice. Tonsy's use of speculative fiction to archive the past gives us a mesmerising new lens onto the 2011 revolution in Egypt.

Akil Kumarasamy, author of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea

MOHAMED TONSY is a queer Egyptian writer and ceramicist. Read how his writing and pottery crafts intersect in this interview in Craft Scotland. Formerly an architect and triathlete representing the Egyptian Triathlon Federation, he completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. His writing has appeared in Epoch Press's 'Transitions' issue, e.i.i.i zine's 'Navel' issue, Mizna's 'Experimental' issue, and is forthcoming in Mizna's Summer 2022 issue. He was shortlisted for MFest's 2021 Short Story Competition. In February 2022 his essay, Where Do We Go When Language Fails?, won a John Byrne Award.

His first novel, You Must Believe in Spring (Hajar Press, 2022), masterfully uses the speculative as an archive, leading us through the murky waters of Egypt's past and present into an unsettling future. Twenty years after she first chanted in Tahrir, Hanan's son is living under military rule in Egypt. Though he is both a disciple of the national Sufi institute and a swimmer representing the Armed Forces, proximity to power cannot undo his revolutionary birthright: like his mother and grandmother before him, Shahed is an undercover rebel. When a general arrives at the Sufi institute looking for help with a military assignment, Shahed accepts, all while concealing his own plans for resistance. The mission takes him behind the walls of a prison town, inside a secret army barracks in the Sinai desert, and deep into the murky waters of the past.


"Knotty, hopeful and heartful." Yara Rodrigues Fowler, author of There Are More Things

"A beautiful and assured debut, masterfully pulling apart the complexities of a singular moment in time." Heather Parry, author of Orpheus Builds a Girl

"A sprawling, dense and simultaneously intimate portrait of a traumatised Cairo." A. Naji Bakhti, author of Between Beirut and the Moon

"A remarkable work of political imagination that refuses to bend backwards for a Western gaze, that holds at its heart the latent rage of the Egyptian people and stages a complex inquiry into what it means to live and die both in and for a changed, unrecognisable country." The Skinny 4-star review

Instagram: @m_tonsy