Naguib Mahfouz's magnificent epic trilogy of colonial Egypt appears here in one volume for the first time. The Nobel Prize-winning writer's masterwork is the engrossing story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain's occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century. The novels of The Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three sons - the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. Al-Sayyid Ahmad's rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination in Palace of Desire, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s. Sugar Street brings Mahfouz's vivid tapestry of an evolving Egypt to a dramatic climax as the ageing patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician.
Throughout the trilogy, the family's trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two World Wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humour and remarkable insight, The Cairo Trilogy is the achievement of a master storyteller.
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(210mm x 60mm x 140mm)
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UK Kirkus Review »
Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street, published in Arabic in 1956-7 and translated into English in 1990, are the three novels which first presented Egyptian urban life to the English-speaking world. Said to have been inspired by Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga (and Mahfouz, like Galsworthy, won the Nobel Prize for literature) it has an additional depth of characterization and insight which remind one more of Mann's Buddenbrooks. The novels follow the history between 1917 and 1944 of the Cairo family of businessman al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad - the totally chauvinistic father himself, his subjugated, timid, sensitive wife, and his five children - two daughters and three sons, all under his hand but each a distinct personality who fights in his or her own way towards the opportunity for self-expression in an often oppressive Muslim society. All this is set against the political background of the conflict between the Ottoman Caliphate and its repressive tradition, and the battle for a new independent nation - beginning with the 1919 nationalist revolution and ending with the mass arrest of political activists in 1944. The characters are brilliantly and sympathetically invented: the imperious father with his secret life of drinking and whoring, his unassertive but strong mother, his three sons - one idealistic, one dissolute, one a searching intellectual - and repressed daughters. With its vivid picture of Egyptian city life which still clings to age-old customs - folk tales and songs, popular tunes, proverbs, traditions - it is not only a panoramic picture of a particular family in a singular place during exciting and dangerous years but, a 'great' book in every sense. (Kirkus UK)
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