The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street Hardcover – Oct 16 2001
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“The highest achievement of The Cairo Trilogy [is] the creation of memorable characters whose circumstances of life are unimaginably remote from our own, but whose aspirations are the same. The Cairo Trilogy extends our knowledge of life; it also confirms it.” –Boston Globe
“Luminous…All the magic, mystery and suffering of Egypt in the 1920s are conveyed on a human scale.” –New York Times Book Review
“The alleys, the houses, the palaces and mosques and the people who live among them are evoked as vividly as the streets of London were conjured up by Dickens.” –Newsweek
“A masterful kaleidoscope of emotions, ideas and perspective. Mahfouz has captured a family and its homeland at one gloriously varied moment in a cycle.” –Newsday
“Mahfouz presents us with a different concept of the world and makes it real. His genius is not just that he shows us Egyptian colonial society in all its complexity; it is that he makes us look through the vision of his vivid characters and see people and ideas that no longer seem alien.” –Philadelphia Inquirer
About the Author
Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. A student of philosophy and an avid reader, he has been influenced by many Western writers, including Flaubert, Balzac, Zola, Camus, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and, above all, Proust. He has more than thirty novels to his credit, ranging from his earliest historical romances to his most recent experimental novels. In 1988, Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He lives in the Cairo suburb of Agouza.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the wake of war in Iraq, an American reader will be particularly enriched from experiencing this novel. It tells the story of three generations of an Egyptian family between the two World Wars and reveals much about daily life in a Muslim family and the manner in which Western geopolitics impacted Arab life and culture. The pull of Western values and ideas on traditional Egyptian culture is so clearly and persuasively presented that the politics, resentments and even opportunities for understanding in today's Middle East suddenly seem much more discernible.
What makes the book a real standout is the way it presents profound life lessons and experiences in such a highly entertaining fashion. Serious political and social issues are explored beside the very real, sometimes ugly and often hilarious foibles of each character. The sincere quest for holiness seems as important and genuine in the lives of characters as the unquenchable thirst for pleasure. Mahfouz never preaches about the "correct path", but rather shares the complicated lives of his characters without sentimentality, prejudice or judgment.
The Cairo Trilogy is a breathtaking, uplifting and deeply affecting achievement. The prose is luminous, the incredible evocation of the sights and smells of Egypt unforgettable, the believability of the characters complete.Read more ›
It consists of 3 parts: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street; and just to make things clear, the above three titles are supposed to be names of quarters in Egypt (with "between two castles" instead of "Palace walk").
The first part introduces Ahmad Abdul-Jawad the merchant and father of 3 boys and 2 girls, and the husband of the weak degraded wife Amina.
The story really spans over the way he treated his family firmly, as opposed to his secret way of life, as a self-indulging playboy. The two elder sons play major roles in the story, one of whom is a hard working student and the other is a big time lady's man. Najib Mahfouz made a good job in expressing the two girls feelings about marriage. ... 5 stars
The second part continues from where the first stopped, and is agian a good read. It explores what happened after the dramatic occurences in the first part, and the major hero of this part is Kamal the youngest son of Abdul-Jawad. It explores his silent Platonic love with a high-class rich girl. It also explores how he turned from a fundamentalist to a total disbeliever. ... 4 stars
The third part is the one I hated the most, it seemed to me as an account promoting communism. It explores the live of the sons and grand sons of Abdul-Jawad, who can't get out of his house. Homosexuality is added to this volume as an extra. Kamal is still studying and writing about philosophy, and is still a big time disbeliever. ... 3 stars
And over all, Mahfouz does a great job in expressing the feelings of people, but the only thing I hate about his writing style is that he makes no distinction between the narrator and the hero.
The book brilliantly evokes the lost world of 20's Cairo and there are some funny set pieces, typically involving sex. As the story moves along, we get a richly detailed picture of these peoples lives, but seem to be living them in real time.
This was a great work, one I recommend to anybody. Other books I like are Salman Rushdie's Midnight Children and Paul Omeziri's Descent into Illusions.
All of that said.....let me encourage you to read this wonderful book, which is so beautifully written, a story that pulls you in from the first page and captures your imagination. I always through Tolstoy was my favorite author in terms of character development.....but it's clear to me that Mahfouz is equally talented in rendering characters that seem as real as friends.
I cannot wait to read more by this important author!
Most recent customer reviews
I agree with everything said by the reviewer "imperato", he beat me to the chase. That might tell you something as a reader -- Mahfouz's literature transcends the... Read morePublished on May 11 2003