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Graphic Literature

The Last of the Bunch

By Migo Rolzz
Translated by Chip Rossetti
Contemporary graphic fiction from Egypt, exploring friendship, family, and loneliness.
Captions: (Title page) Migo/The Last of the Bunch
Captions: [At my age, there’s nothing to live for except the past…] Son: I wonder what the stars are hiding Father: The darker the sky, the brighter the stars! Son: Is that philosophy or something?
Captions: Father: No, that’s experience talking! Son: You seem happy today, Dad. Father: I feel like I’ve got a new spirit in me. Son: That sounds like big news. Father: You remember by friend Tariq? Son: No…I didn’t know you had any friends! Father: How is it I’ve never told you about him? Father: He’s the only friend I’ve had in this life. Son: OK, so where is he since I’ve never laid eyes on him?
Captions: Father: He moved away more than thirty years before you were born Son: Whoa, that’s a lifetime ago! Son: So what made you think of him, Dad? Father: I’m afraid you won’t understand the matter . . . You’re young and I don’t want my feelings to get hurt! Son: What “matter,” Dad? Why are you beating around the bush like this? Father: Tariq has returned. He’s coming to Alexandria tomorrow! [Tariq’s return is going to let me feel like I’m alive again.] [We shared memories and things I could never forget.] Father as kid: Kick it, Tariq. Father as kid: C’mon, Tariq, the teacher’s coming! [Hope and success] [Work and striving] [But he found the country’s circumstances too constricting. He emigrated to Canada and settled down there.]
Captions: [When your mother died, I was hoping he would come back so I could grieve with him.] Father: I’m going to go wait for him tomorrow! Father: Would you like to come along? Son: Sorry, Dad—tomorrow I’ve got to be somewhere in the morning. But for sure, I’ll meet him when I get back! Father: It’s not important that you meet him when you get back Son: Sorry, Dad. Now I understand what you meant that maybe I wouldn’t understand you. Son: I’ll leave you out here with the stars. I’m going inside to sleep. I’ve got to get up early.
Captions: Son: Good morning, Dad! Father: What do you think about this shirt? Or would wearing black look more chic? Son: Do you have a photo of him? Father: Of who? Son: Tariq! Father: No Son: That shirt is nicer. I’m heading out. Bye! Father: Alexandria Station, driver! Taxi driver: Yes, sir. Hop in!
Captions: Taxi driver: You were asking about the 10:30 train, I’ll get you someone who can show you. Father: Thank you so much, driver! Person: The 10:30 train arrives on the middle platform. Father: Cigarette? Father: What’s your name? Person on bench: Abd al-Rasul Father: Nice to meet you Father: The train from Cairo gets here at 10:30, right? Abd al-Rasul: I don’t know, exactly: I’m waiting for the Mansoura train Father: The fact is, the train that’s on its way is bringing my friend Tariq. He was in Canada for thirty years. We’ve very good friends! Abd al-Rasul: “May God preserve your friendship!”, as they say.
Captions: Father: Tariq! [His hair is white, too…And there’s the same glasses!] Father: He’s heading towards me…He’s definitely noticed me! Father: I’ll act like I haven’t noticed him… Let him recognize me! Tariq: Excuse me, is there a public payphone near here? Father: It’s…uhhh, there’s one next to the station, on the north side. Tariq: Thanks very much! [Where’s the sky, where’s the sky… Even the past didn’t recognize me.]
Captions: Son: Dad, you’re back! So where’s Tariq? Father: He had a few errands some people to visit. We’ll get together after that. Father: He asked about you. I told him you’re busy. He says hello! Son: And hello to him, too! Father: OK, boys, I’m going into my room to get some sleep. Son: Can I make you a sandwich? Father: No…thank you. Phone: Ring! Ring!
Captions: Phone: Ring! Ring! [The End]

© Migo Rollz. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Chip Rossetti. All rights reserved.

Read Bios Context Explore Teaching Ideas

© Migo Rollz. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Chip Rossetti. All rights reserved.

Migo Rolzz

Author Migo RolzzThe comic artist and illustrator Migo Rolzz was born in 1988 in Egypt. He studied architecture and graphic design, and worked in design, post-production, and advertising. He lives in Southern California. His work has been published in TokTok magazine in Cairo, Egypt. See more of his work at www.migorolzz.com.

Chip Rossetti (translator)

Chip Rossetti is a doctoral student in Arabic literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked as an acquiring editor at a number of publishers, including Little, Brown, Basic, and the American University in Cairo Press, and is now the managing editor for the Library of Arabic Literature translation series at NYU Press. He has written for Saudi Aramco World, Fodor’s, and National Geographic’s travel guides to Morocco and Egypt. He has translated the novels Saint Theresa and Sleeping with Strangers by Bahaa Abdelmeguid (AUC Press) and Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik (Bloomsbury Qatar), and won a PEN Translation Prize for his translation of a collection of short stories by the Egyptian writer Mohamad Makhzangi.

Hear the Terms

Listen to pronunciations of the Egyptian Arabic terms in this story, read aloud by Noor Nagi.

(Listen on SoundCloud.)

Translating "The Last of the Bunch"

Take a look inside the translation process for “The Last of the Bunch” by reading the first few pages of a draft from translator Chip Rossetti.

See the Scenery

Browse through photos from a blog post on the train from Cairo to Alexandria. You’ll see the Misr Railway Station in Alexandria, which also appears in the story. Then, look at a photo of the sea view in Alexandria.

Egyptian Proverbs

Read a list of Egyptian proverbs, including one on friendship that says “Go away for a while and you’ll be loved more.”

Background on Egypt

Mural, Egypt 2013, photographed by stttijn. License: CC by 2.0.

To learn more about Egypt’s history, read the BBC’s timeline of key events from 7000 BCE to 2018.

More from Migo Rollz

Look at drawings from Migo Rollz and then click through the pages of his other graphic story “The Beard and the Cover,” which is in Arabic, but possible to follow through the illustrations. 

Then, watch the trailer for The Yacoubian Building, one of Migo Rollz’s favorite films. 

(Watch the video on YouTube.)

More from Translator Chip Rossetti

Learn about modern Egypt by reading Chip Rossetti’s introduction to contemporary Egyptian literature on WWB Campus, and then read more of his work

More Egyptian Comix

Interested in other comix from Egypt? If you know Arabic (or are interested in learning) try the Comix and Graphic Novels series on Khallina.org. It begins with the video below, which shows the magazine TokTok being created. 

 

(Watch on YouTube.) 

 

More Stories of Storytelling

Read more graphic literature about the power of storytelling. Then, browse through the archive of Symbolia, an online magazine for illustrative journalism. 

Background Resource
1. Launching the Story
2. Friendship and a Generational Divide
3. Friendship between Parents and Children
4. Silence in Literature
To access these Teaching Ideas, please register or login to WWB-Campus.
English

© Migo Rollz. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Chip Rossetti. All rights reserved.

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