Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I have begun a traversal of Naguib Mahfouz's great set of novels, The Cairo Trilogy. This is a story to savor and Mahfouz, who was born in Cairo in 1911, begins it slowly introducing each character through their individual actions and thoughts so the reader gradually becomes acquainted with the family of Ahmad Abd al-Jawad. It is almost two hundred pages into the novel when, suddenly, there is an explosion of sorts as the plot "thickens" as has often been said. Luxuriating in the life of this family, learning the culture and the particular eccentricities of its patriarch, this reader is finding Mahfouz a subtle creator and novelist in the tradition of Dickens, Mann and Tolstoy. The life of the al-Jawad family with mother Amina, her daughters Khadija and Aisha, sons Fahmy and Kamal and stepson Yasin, becomes a living force as their personalities emerge from the pages of the novel. Behind it all is the great city of Cairo. I am looking forward to the events to come as I continue reading this fascinating trilogy.
The Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street) by Naguib Mahfouz. Everyman's Library, New York. 2001.


Tim said...

Mahfouz is wonderful! Enjoy!

James said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I am impressed, so far, with the way Mahfouz slowly draws in the reader. The narrative builds interest through detailing the daily lives of each member of the family (in Palace Walk), letting their actions and their thoughts, hopes, and desires build a picture of their world. I am finding the world of Cairo in the early part of the twentieth century fascinating!