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- Published on Amazon.com
This book is a collection of 500 word essays by the Nobel prize winner Naguib Mahfouz that outline his take on writing, winning prizes, Egyptian politics, and what the future will look like, to name a few of the topics covered herein. The essays are all short and touch on many subjects, some of which are explored multiple times. This book is full of information about the life and times and thinking of Mahfouz just a few years before his death and directly after he was attacked by religious extremists. In some ways Mahfouz is a product of his times: in politics he was strongly influenced by national events and by his desire to see democracy in Egypt become stronger, and in other ways Mahfouz stands against his society, as in wanting to see more rights for women, for example. One position that surprised me was that Mahfouz doesn't support a ban on human cloning. He believes such brakes on scientific progress are ill-guided and mistaken. He believes that scientific inquiry should be allowed to wander where it will, a stance that puts him at odds with the United States and Western Europe, which have banned human cloning experiments.
I read this entire book (153 pages) in a single sitting and have to admit that I really enjoyed the experience. I've read many of Mahfouz's books and have been looking forward to a break in my reading schedule to read this book. I think my favorite of his books remains *Midaq Alley*, though *Adrift on the Nile* was also a good time. I found the Cairo Trilogy to be too ugly to enjoy and quit partway through the second book in the set; I have to be able to root for at least one or two of the characters, and the characters in the Cairo Trilogy were so disgusting that I did not care if they lived or died. There are plenty of Mahfouz's books which I have not yet read, and I look forward to picking these up as the years wear on. Mahfouz was an important writer, and I'm disappointed to see that this review is the first review of this book. Are Americans not reading Mahfouz? Has the younger generation never heard of him? Why is no one exploring the man's thinking, especially in a slim volume you can read in 3 hours? Get this book and read it, it's interesting and will challenge your view of the MIddle East and its inhabitants and will acquaint you with some Egyptian culture and politics. In a time when the only models of Middle Eastern manhood that we have in the West are terrorists, Mahfouz will be a breath of fresh air and a challenge to the sensibility. Rise to the occasion!