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A Fortuitous Appendage

Once again, ORbits offers you the opportunity to test your knowledge of all things literary. Hot on the heels of Wolf Hall, this week’s passage comes from a previous Man Booker Prize winner:

It had seemed, for the year or so in which I had been there, merely a backcloth, that country. I had been dropped into its heat and dust and smells and they became a fortuitous appendage to the more urgent matter of war. You learned to cope with it – the discomforts and obstructions and hazards – and got on with what mattered. The British army superimposed itself on the landscape and the society: its lorries jammed the roads, its depots littered the delta from Cairo to Alexandria, its personnel filled the streets and cafés of Cairo with English voices. The speech of Lancashire, of Dorset, of the East End, of Eton and Winchester, rang around the mosques and bazaars, the Pyramids and the Citadel. Cairo, polyglot and multi-racial, both absorbed and ignored what had happened. At one level the place exploited and manipulated the situation, at another it simply went on doing what it had always done. The rich got richer, the poor continued to wade in the mud of the canals, make fuel out of buffalo dung and beg in the streets.

The answer to last week’s contest was Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm.

This week’s answer, and another challenge, on ORbits next week.