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Palace of Desire: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 2 Paperback – Nov 29 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 2 edition (Nov. 29 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307947114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307947116
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #172,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this second volume of Nobel laureate Mahfouz's Cairo trilogy, a tyrannical father discovers that his mistress has secretly married his just-divorced son. "A masterpiece, albeit a wordy, very leisurely one, this family saga is well served by a scintillating translation that exposes English-language readers to an Egyptian Balzac," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Al-Sayyid Ahmad is mellowing as he leaves middle age. As this second novel of "The Cairo Trilogy" opens, he is ending his self-imposed abstention from liquor and women, begun five years earlier upon the death of his son, Fahmy. With shouts of joy, his friends welcome him back to their nightly revels, and al-Sayyid Ahmad promtly begins a new love affair. Meanwhile, his children are struggling with life beyond their father's domination. Yasin is twice divorced and incapable of resisting any woman. The two married daughters are split by an open feud. And Kamal, the intellectual center of this novel, enters college, where he suffers the three furies of religion, science, and romance. Through all these avenues, Mahfouz pursues his fascinating examination of Cairo's Islamic culture as it opens to modern influences. This novel continues the outstanding quality of this trilogy, leaving readers anxious for the final volume.
-Paul E. Hutchison, Pequea, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Don't let the size of this book scare you off. The chapters are short and are themselves self-contained stories: they make for perfect nighttime reading installments! And the plot, characters and wisdom of the book are consistently illuminating from the first pages to the very end. It is staggering how effortlessly Mahfouz feeds us the richest possible detail without ever allowing the energy of the story to flag.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel is considered to be the best Mahfouz ever written through his long career as a storyteller.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Palace of Desire, ot is great. Palace of Desire continues the Cairo Trilogy of Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz. Like it's excellent predecessor, Palace Walk, it follows the family saga of the patriarchal merchant al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad and his children in 1920s Egypt. The changes occurring in the family parallel the upheaval in the outside world as a new generation comes to power, challenging al-Sayyid on the one hand and English rule on the other. The particular focus of this installment is Kamal, a nascent writer who is apparently modeled on Mahfouz himself.
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.
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Format: Paperback
In this, the second novel of the Cairo Trilogy (although I hesitate to call it that, since I now see the "trilogy" more as a novel in its entirety, which is what Mahfouz apparently preferred it to be), the movement of the narrative is more toward introspection, as we enter the mind of the youngest member of the family, Kamal. Kamal is a philosophically and romantically minded young man, an idealist who wants to be a teacher in spite of his father's strong opposition and the fact that the profession he seeks to enter gets little respect from his friends and the society in which he lives. His openness to the new ideas (such as evolution) stands in direct opposition to his father's staunch defense of the old ways and the old religious beliefs.
While sometimes I found the narrative a bit slow (too much of Kamal's ruminations on the nature of love, for example), I still enjoyed this section of the saga. I got a feel for Mahfouz' world view and a further education on the Middle Eastern mind. Egypt continues in a turmoil which parallels that of the young Kamal. Europe beckons, taking his best friend from him. The Western Influence is a source of pain and curiosity at the same time. More and more the reader comes to see why the Middle East views the West with scepticism and scorn.
Kamal's father begins to slide into infirmity, losing physical strength but not inner passion, and the family will soon no doubt have to deal with the problems related to the possible loss of its patriarch.
As always, well written, compelling narrative, for the most part. I will continue to complete the trilogy by reading "Sugar Street." This family saga is one I want to complete.
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