After diving into the first few pages of Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s Utopia, it is clear to see that this society is anything but.
Focusing on the lives of two young boys, the reader is given a chilling account of a dystopian society where the rich get richer in wealth, but not morals. Concurrently, the poorer class is forced into a dehumanizing environment full of poverty outside the walls of Utopia.
My mother once told me that the most dangerous, yet compelling method of earning political support is to create a “them” and an “us.” Once the economic structure of the Middle East collapsed because of the U.S’s invention of bioil, the rich took it upon themselves to divide two classes even further physically, economically, and socially by creating Utopia.
Utopia is set in Egypt 2023, however similar tactics in political speeches are what made Donald Trump so successful in the 2016 election: Donald Trump: Them vs. Us Video
It seems that Towfik shares in my mother’s sentiment. Twofik’s own opinions on such issues are artfully interwoven between the plot line and the narrator’s thoughts. Adding depth as well as historical context, Towfik comments “A society without a middle class is a society primed for explosion” (108).
Based in realistic science and statistics of the present, Towfik depicts a grim picture of what Egypt and the world could become (or already is?) in the near future. In Utopia, parents have no control over their children and an entire generation has turned their backs on those who cannot afford adequate healthcare.
As the reader continues on, one can draw several contentions between futuristic Utopia and contemporary America.
Hypocrisy is a predominant and reoccurring theme in Utopia. The religious hypocrisy of the religious right seems to be the focus of Towfik’s criticism. Through the eyes of Gerber he muses, “They are very particular about slaughtering chickens but they aren’t so particular about slaughtering us” (112). It can be noted that the religious right in the United States seems particularly hypocritical when assessing their stance for war and against abortion.
Utopia may seem like just a place in a far off future, but in reality that’s not true at all. What makes reading Utopia so compelling is that it is derived from a very plausible reality which we may already be unknowingly living in.
The question is: how will our own story end?