The City Always Wins

Pankaj Mishra

“From the chaos and torment of a revolution, and the perpetual struggle with despotism, Omar Robert Hamilton has drawn a novel of great emotional and intellectual power. The City Always Wins is a rare fiction that reminds us, with its wisdom about violence and inequality, grief and loss, how politics is for many today a way to live - and die.”

Naomi Klein

“Few writers could capture the frenetic speed of an Internet-fuelled uprising alongside the time-stopping corporeal reality of bullet-ridden bodies, all while never losing sight of the love that powered Egypt’s revolutionary moment. Omar Robert Hamilton can do all that and more. Crossing borders and generations, he brings us into the movement’s effervescent hope and its crushing heartbreak, probing timeless questions about what the living owe to the dead. Unbearable. Unmissable. A dazzling debut.”

Philip Pullman

“I finished The City Always Wins with fascination and admiration. It gives a picture of the inside of a popular movement that we all saw from the outside, in countless news broadcasts and foreign-correspondent reports, a picture so vivid and powerful that it gives a passionate life and reality to what might have been perceived only as abstract principles. A thousand vivid details print themselves on the reader’s memory: it will be a long time before we read anything so skilfully brought to life.” 

2017 Book of the Year

Boston Globe
The White Review
The Arts Desk
Ahram Online

The Guardian

"An astounding debut novel"


The Betty Trask Prize - Society of Authors Best Debut Under 35


Prix de la Littérature - Institut du Monde Arabe

The Big Issue

"Rarely does a debut novel arrive as fully realised and confidently written"

Molly Crabapple

"Fucking incredible, and this is without hyperbole.  Hamilton has created both an unsparing psychological portrait of a generation - a generation who could just about see a new world through the tear gas - and a poetic, searing depiction of a revolution betrayed.”

The New Yorker

"[Hamilton] skilfully manipulates the push and pull between fact and fiction in the novel,punctuating the narrative with date stamps, real tweets, and newspaper headlines. . . The book also challenges the myth that January 2011 was beautiful and peaceful. In this way, too, it is a reminder of the suppression and violence that continue."

Wall Street Journal

"One of the defining novels of the Arab Spring"

J M Coetzee

“Brings vividly to life the failed revolution of 2011 on the streets of Cairo, in all its youthful bravery and naive utopianism.”

The National

"Hamilton’s stunning debut is both a defiant fist in the air and a sucker-punch to the gut. Despotism and optimism have seldom been so powerfully portrayed."

New Statesman

"A poetic, intimate debut . . . A psychologically acute perspective on the uprising as it unfolded, positioning the reader alongside political dissidents . . . Line by line Hamilton has the power of a crack poet  . . . This novel bears witness, recording injustice and aiming, as all good literature attempts, to tell the truth"

Literary Review

"Compelling . . . Hamilton is to be commended for his vivid and sensitive depiction of one of the most important events in recent world history."

Roddy Doyle

“The hope, the excitement, the arrogance, the disillusionment, the renewal of hope—this novel is fast, thought-provoking and hugely entertaining.”

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