The refugee in the title of the piece is Manu, who was one of the first people Peter met when he moved to Cairo with his family in late 2011. Gay and carefully planning his escape from repressive Egyptian society to seek asylum in Germany, Manu translated for Peter as he reported on protests from Tahrir Square and its environs. They became close friends, and it was Manu who was finally able to get the Egyptian police to help find Peter and Leslie’s stolen notebooks, computer, cameras, backup drives and other belongings in two carry-on bags taken at the Cairo airport. You can read more about Manu in The Buried, but “The Refugee and the Thief” is a more personal story of trust and betrayal that does not appear in the book.
The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler will be published on May 7th by Penguin Press in North America, Profile Books in the United Kingdom, and Text Publishing in Australia and New Zealand. You can read more of his stories from The New Yorker and other magazines in Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West.