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Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1 Paperback – Dec 1 1990

4.3 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Anchor Books ed edition (Dec 1 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385264666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385264662
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #515,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This first volume in the 1988 Nobel Prize winner's Cairo Trilogy describes the disintegrating family life of a tyrannical, prosperous merchant, his timid wife and their rebellious children in post-WW I Egypt. "Mahfouz is a master at building up dramatic scenes and at portraying complex characters in depth," lauded PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This extraordinary novel provides a close look into Cairo society at the end of World War I. Mahfouz's vehicle for this examination is the family of al-Sayyid Ahmad, a middle-class merchant who runs his family strictly according to the Qur'an and directs his own behavior according to his desires. Consequently, while his wife and two daughters remain cloistered at home, and his three sons live in fear of his harsh will, al-Sayyid Ahmad nightly explores the pleasures of Cairo. Written by the first Arabic writer to win the Nobel Prize, Palace Walk begins Mahfouz's highly acclaimed "Cairo Trilogy," which follows Egypt's development from 1917 to nationalism and Nasser in the 1950s. This novel's enchanting style and sweeping social tapestry ensure a large audience, one that will eagerly await the English translation of the entire trilogy. A significant addition to any collection. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/89.
- Paul E. Hutchison, Fishermans Paradise, Bellefonte, Pa.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I do consulting in the refining and petrochemical industries and have, as a result, struck up several friendships with Arabs and Arab-Americans working in those facilities. Once I asked several acquaintances if there were are well-regarded Arab writers with good English translations available that could help me as an American better understand the modern Arab experience and worldview. Several recommended The Cairo trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street) by Naguib Mahfouz. It covers a time period that would provide an excellent overview into 20th century Arab experience both politically and socially, especially vis-à-vis Arab/Western interaction. It is a family saga and therefore provides a good view of modern Arab family life and the affects modernization has had on it. It's urban setting and action would be more familiar to Americans than a more rural tale. The books are written from a genuinely Arabic sensibility language-wise-a sensibility not overly degraded by translation. And, finally, it would be a "less difficult" introduction to Arabic culture than other possibilities.
It should be noted that "less difficult" is not that same as "easy" or "easier". This marks an important distinction, one underscored by these books. Arabic language, society and sensibilities are colored much more by nuances and multiple permutations on a few basic themes than is true in Western society.
Naguib Mahfouz is a Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist who adeptly and adroitly captures these nuances and evokes a genuine feel for-if not true understanding of-their intrinsic roots within the Arabic weltanschauung.
Clearly, based on the reviews to date for this book, there are many who have difficulty with this dynamic.
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Format: Paperback
Mahfouz is an enjoyable author, as he gives you insight into the real life of a middle-class family living in Cairo. One gradually learns all the different permutations of the patriarch's inner-conflicts and hypocrisy towards his own sons. The reader can also begin to understand the way tradition and religion has shaped relationships between men and women, as the two sisters find husbands, the younger one before the elder.
The author is clearly talented, and though I liked his shorter work Autumn Quail more, Palace Walk is a nice overview of an Egyptian family living during British occupation and the resulting unrest. The civil unrest in this time period, though leading to Egypt's independence, also plants the seeds for the extreme militants in Egypt today. Mahfouz clearly paints a picture of these militants, not an entirely ugly but definately unsettling as they shake up tradition while clinging to quotes from the Koran. The relationship between the father and the son involved in the uprising against the British is strained and poignant, encapsulating some near-universal experiences.
If you want to learn more about Cairo and what the family unit was like in this fascinating country during the first half of the 20th century, read this book. The author rightfully won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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Format: Paperback
The dooors of a traditional Egyptian family home are opened to the reader by N. Mahfouz in "Palace Walk". A loving father sees his well-intentioned strictness backfire in many ways in this novel of family closeness. Amina, a devoted wife and mother, has no qualms about being kept under lock and key by her husband, and has her beliefs confirmed by the disastrous consequences of a secret excursion.
One of the more intriguing characters in the novel is Yasin, eldest son of Al-Sayyid Ahmad, and most likely to follow in his father's footsteps. Passion for music, wine, and women runs unchecked in his blood and, like his father, would rather spend the night in the company of mistresses and friends than with his family.
Fahmy is the intellectual heart of the family and has a devotion to his country's fight for independence that surpasses family ties and respect for his father's wishes. His undercover behavior and quest for martyrdom helps explain modern Muslim fundamentalism.
The sisters Aisha and Khadija are in a race for marriage, complicated by the extreme beauty of the younger sister and the disfiguring nose of the eldest.
Kamal lends a child's perspective to the novel, questioning the norms of Egyptian society and forging a shaky bond with occupying English soldiers. He's the fly on the wall that we'd all like to be, as readers, curious and questioning.
Overall, this is a profoundly intriguing novel that fully penetrates the minds of every character in "Palace Walk", and in doing so provides the reader with a significant portrayal of an Egyptian society steeped in culture and ruled by religion.
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Format: Paperback
Twelve years ago, I spent several months living in Egypt. I am an American woman, and at that time, I found much of the culture and behavior of Egyptians to be confusing. Since that time, I have married a Moroccan, and have lived in Morocco for the past ten years. I now feel that I understand much about Arab culture.
Just recently, a friend recommended I read the Cairo trilogy. I began with Palace Walk, and haven't yet read the others. This book is SUPERB. Westerners have trouble understanding how Middle Easterners THINK. This book is so wonderful because it takes you inside the mind of each of the characters, in turn, chapter-by-chapter, showing you how each one of them thinks, and allowing you to see their motivations for their behavior. One person commmented in their book review that the majority of the book concentrated on the male characters. There is a reason for this. Egyptian society is mostly about men, not about women. Even as the society modernizes, the THINKING stays the same. Mahfuz has done a masterful character study of each character in the book, as they go therough their daily lives. Without yet having read the two subsequent books, I expect that I will get more in depth into the women's lives in Sugar Street, because this is the house to which the two female daughters have moved upon their marriages to two brothers.
In the past, I have tried to read some other books by this author, and just couldn't get into them. These books are different. They really do merit the Nobel Prize. Reading them now, after being immersed in the Arab culture for 12 years, I see so many more things than I would have noticed had I read the books first.
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