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Adrift on the Nile Paperback – Jan 1 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (Jan. 1 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385423330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385423335
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #456,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A keen sense of life's futility and meaninglessness gnaws at Anis Zani, a pot-smoking civil servant in Cairo and the cultured but dazed protagonist of Mahfouz's probing novel of spiritual emptiness, first published in 1966. Anis, an addict who can scarcely keep his job, shares a houseboat on the Nile--and a water pipe full of hemp--with other bored, disaffected Cairenes, among them an opportunistic art critic, a womanizing actor, a woman who has deserted her husband, a laid-back writer and a cynical lawyer. A spirited female journalist joins them and critiques their nihilism in her notebook, which Anis steals--an absurd act without a clear motive. In drug-induced hallucinations he encounters pharaohs, Napoleon, Nero, and his wife, who died 20 years earlier, as did their small daughter. The houseboat revelers take a midnight automotive joyride, which turns to tragedy with a hit-and-run accident; guilt over their collective vow of silence tears the group apart. Nobel laureate Mahfouz ( The Cairo Trilogy ) writes hypnotic prose, by turns romantically lyrical and tartly astringent, spiced with ironical allusions to ancient Egypt and classical history, whose grandeur highlights by contrast the rootlessness of modern Egypt's secularized, cosmopolitan middle class.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

In Nobel Prize winner Mahfouz's newly translated work, a houseboat on the Nile is a nightly diversion for a small circle of friends. Careers in the arts, business, law, and civil service are forgotten as the waterpipe makes its rounds, the intoxicating kif erasing all sense of responsibility. Anis, the "master of ceremonies," tends the pipe and drifts in his narcotic dreams while the others extol the absurdity of addiction. Their tranquility ends, however, when Samara, a young journalist, comes to study the group. She is the grain of seriousness that irritates them in their escapist shell, and around her swirls a nightly dispute over purpose, duty, love, and morality. A car accident crystallizes the argument, shattering the group as each confronts inescapable responsibility. The houseboat is a consistent metaphor in Mahfouz's writing, the vessel of escape in a complex and changing society. Adrift on the Nile skillfully dissects this metaphor but sacrifices the rich narrative and vibrant life that mark his other works.
- Paul E. Hutchison, Bellefonte, Pa.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Winning the Nobel Prize for literature (in 1988) certainly didn't hurt him any, and
now Naguib Mahfouz has become a house-hold name (for the literati, at least). When
one reads a Prize-winner, one expects substance and style, and Mahfouz, if his
translators are honest, certainly seems worthy of the Swedish honor. In "Adrift on the
Nile," nihilism is the word, as a group of like minded intellectuals gather nightly on a
houseboat moored on the famous river where they question anything that can be
questioned--"but no answers," they claim. "There are never any answers," as they call
into account any topic brought up. It is a "din in iniquity," for sure, as good Egyptian
kif (and a well-stoked pipe) help to bring out their curiousity cum intellect. That is,
until, toward the end of this short novel, the group takes a ride out into the desert
where a disaster happens. It's Jay Gatsby, final chapter, of course.
Mahfouz is compared to Proust, Camus, Salinger, and an introspective Hemingway,
and justifiably so. Hailed as the "widest-read Arab writer currently published in the
U.S.," Mahfouz has certainly wielded his own influence among international readers
since the '88 Prize; alas, it seems it took the impact of this award for his books to
achieve their circulation, but that doesn't diminish his themes, his philosophies, his
impact on both socially significant issues and modern literature.
"Adrift on the Nile" reads fast and it is short; yet it packs a punch that seems to score
to the very soul. The houseboat literally becomes a ship of fools, adrift on the
Sargasso Sea, headed into the Bermuda triangle. Existentialists will love this one.
(Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By Randy Keehn on April 20 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the third book that I've read by Mahfouz. I believe it will be the last. I started reading him because he is, after all, a Nobel Prize-winning author. I couldn't figure out why after reading "Respected Sir" or "The Search" and I'm still not sure after "Adrift on the Nile". However, this last book was the best of the three and you might want to read it and judge for yourself. It's short and won't take long to read. I found it surprizing to read about such a decadent group of individuals partaking of their illegal substances in the middle of Cairo. The basic plot, as I understood it, has to do with examining the reactions of artistic intelligentia with cold hard reality. How do people who search for "Truth" handle the truth? We'll at least he didn't drag it out. I'm not sure why Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize but I'm through trying to find out.
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By A Customer on Aug. 5 2001
Format: Paperback
A sort of Eqyptian Bartelby the Scrivener meets Brian de Palma. The book portrays a group of overeducated and generally understimulated, underemployed professionals who meet nightly in a hookah ritual that seems to roll on like the everpresent Nile until the one night when an outing changes things forever. The book marvelously conveys modern aimlessness, ennui, and the haunting presence of the past. Short, but depressing.
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By A Customer on Aug. 18 1997
Format: Paperback
I truly enjoyed this book. I'd actually rate it 8.5 on the 1-10 scale. The passion and readability of Adrift on the Nile led me to other works of Mafouz, all of which provide the unique entertainment experience that comes only from a mesmerizing novel . Being such a short book, Adrift on the Nile is impossible to put down once started
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Mahfouz charms the Nile! Aug. 11 2002
By Billy J. Hobbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Winning the Nobel Prize for literature (in 1988) certainly didn't hurt him any, and
now Naguib Mahfouz has become a house-hold name (for the literati, at least). When
one reads a Prize-winner, one expects substance and style, and Mahfouz, if his
translators are honest, certainly seems worthy of the Swedish honor. In "Adrift on the
Nile," nihilism is the word, as a group of like minded intellectuals gather nightly on a
houseboat moored on the famous river where they question anything that can be
questioned--"but no answers," they claim. "There are never any answers," as they call
into account any topic brought up. It is a "din in iniquity," for sure, as good Egyptian
kif (and a well-stoked pipe) help to bring out their curiousity cum intellect. That is,
until, toward the end of this short novel, the group takes a ride out into the desert
where a disaster happens. It's Jay Gatsby, final chapter, of course.
Mahfouz is compared to Proust, Camus, Salinger, and an introspective Hemingway,
and justifiably so. Hailed as the "widest-read Arab writer currently published in the
U.S.," Mahfouz has certainly wielded his own influence among international readers
since the '88 Prize; alas, it seems it took the impact of this award for his books to
achieve their circulation, but that doesn't diminish his themes, his philosophies, his
impact on both socially significant issues and modern literature.
"Adrift on the Nile" reads fast and it is short; yet it packs a punch that seems to score
to the very soul. The houseboat literally becomes a ship of fools, adrift on the
Sargasso Sea, headed into the Bermuda triangle. Existentialists will love this one.
(Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An Egyptian 'Betrayal of the scholars'. Sept. 6 2002
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Intellectuals gather every evening on a boat for drug and sex parties. One of them writes a play with the members of the group as main characters. Their common attitude: flight for reality, nihilism and defeatism. The fervour after the Nasser revolution is gone: "Revolutions are planned by cunning foxes, fought by the brave and won by the cowards."
But ultimately they are confronted with reality when one of them kills a person in a car accident and flees. Will the name of the culprit be revealed to the police? The group falls apart.

Mahfouz punches Samuel Beckett and his 'theatre of the absurd' K.O. when he cleverly remarks that Beckett filed a complaint against an editor who failed to fulfil his contract. His plays may be absurd, but not the royalties. It was all just a pose.

Indeed, more a book for Egyptian readers, but also with a universal theme: don't shun your responsibilities.

Highly recommended.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Adrift on the Nile Aug. 5 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A sort of Eqyptian Bartelby the Scrivener meets Brian de Palma. The book portrays a group of overeducated and generally understimulated, underemployed professionals who meet nightly in a hookah ritual that seems to roll on like the everpresent Nile until the one night when an outing changes things forever. The book marvelously conveys modern aimlessness, ennui, and the haunting presence of the past. Short, but depressing.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
captivating and intriguing book Aug. 18 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I truly enjoyed this book. I'd actually rate it 8.5 on the 1-10 scale. The passion and readability of Adrift on the Nile led me to other works of Mafouz, all of which provide the unique entertainment experience that comes only from a mesmerizing novel . Being such a short book, Adrift on the Nile is impossible to put down once started
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Of Interest, but Far from His Best Work Jan. 15 2009
By Reader in Tokyo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The work of Mahfouz can be divided, it's said, into four periods: historical, realist, experimental and traditional. For many, his great accomplishment was the Cairo Trilogy, from the realist period. This novel, which I assume belongs to the experimental phase, failed to fascinate by comparison.

It had some interest: to present the characters' frivolity and dissipation and finally to confront them with the consequences of their actions. Yet I couldn't help comparing this novel with his earlier, realistic work, with its deeper characters and relationships and more entrancing stories. Here, on the other hand, all the characters were weak, and little attention was given to their development. Maybe their weakness was the point, since the author seemed to be portraying the loss of direction of the Egyptian elites, but it didn't make for an absorbing read.

Maybe part of the problem, aside from the theme, was that the author seemed unable to make up his mind about which point of view to tell the story from. Much of it was from the character Zaki's perspective -- in the third person -- though the novel didn't go that deeply into his character. Other times, it followed other characters, superficially.

This story has been filmed, and it made a livelier film than a novel, in my opinion.

Some excerpts:

"Everyone is writing about socialism . . . while most writers dream of acquiring a fortune, and of nights full of dazzling society."

"We can see that the ship of state sails on without need of our opinion or support; and that any further thinking on our part is worth nothing, and would very likely bring distress and high blood pressure in its wake."

"Real knowledge provides an ethical system in an age when morals are crumbling. It is manifested in a love of truth; in integrity in judgment; in a monastic devotion to work; in cooperation in research; and in a spontaneous disposition toward an all-embracing, humanist attitude. Is it possible, on the level of the particular, for scientific excellence to replace opportunism in the hearts of the new generation?"

"Like many whom I meet at social gatherings, he is apparently exquisitely cultured but inwardly hollow, crumbling, stinking of his own miserable decay . . . . [Another] imagines herself to be a pioneering martyr, whereas in fact she is a pioneer only in the incoherent depravity of addiction."

"He had not read a newspaper for a long time; he knew nothing of current events except what he picked up from his friends' delirious commentaries that merged into the endless babble of the smoking party. Who were the ministers? What were the policies? How were things going? But who cares! As long as you can walk along a deserted street without a thug attacking you, as long as Amm Abduh brings you the good stuff every evening, as long as there is plenty of milk in the refrigerator, then things must be going well."


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