One book that instantly comes to one’s mind that pass the test of terrorising “those who wish to suppress the truth” is Naguib Mahfouz’s novel Children of the Alley. The book first published in Arabic in 1959. The novel has a story within a story. On the surface, the reader thinks of the novel as a story of a delightful Egyptian family. But the story contains a second, hidden and more daring narrative: a complex mix of the spiritual history of humankind and a message to revolt against the political status quo that has gone rotten.

The novel was banned in Egypt instantly. Many believe the reason for the ban was its controversial treatment of religion and the protagonists’ resemblance to the prophets. However, a smart reading of the novel suggests that the political message in the story was the actual reason that the authorities had banned the book. However the first belief got more strength when Islamic militants, partly because of their outrage over the work, later called for his death, and in 1994 Mahfouz was stabbed in the neck. But he survived the assassination attempt.

Nevertheless, the book informs the people how individuals change the course of history when they rebel against a system that goes corrupt. The courage of such individuals to revolt against the status quo takes a community forward and ensures its progress. It is the political message in the book that makes it more relevant now than ever.

“Books and all forms of writing are terror to those

who wish to suppress the truth.”

–Wole Soyinka