Mahfouz traces the life of a middle-class Cairene family living in the early 1980s helplessly watching as their world rapidly disintegrates in “the kingdom of the corrupt.”
In this breathtakingly compact novel, written in the mid-1980s, the focus is once again on the generational paradigm featured in the Cairo Trilogy. This time, Mahfouz traces the life of a middle-class Cairene family living in the early 1980s under President Sadat. It was an era of transition in Egypt, a time of acute crisis, as everywhere ordinary people were being pushed into the ‘’abyss of Infitah.’’ In the mad rush, there was a sense of an ending, a feeling of panic as the innocent helplessly watched their world rapidly disintegrating. A whole way of life with its age-old traditions and values was simply falling apart, making way for a merciless new materialism in ‘’the kingdom of the corrupt,’’ where survival had indeed to be for the fittest. The novel reaches its climax with the assassination of Sadat on October 6, 1981, an event around which the fictional plot is skillfully woven.
Ahlam Mosteghanemi's second novel picks up where Memory in the Flesh left off, with the story of love set in the battered and bruised Algeria of the1990s. Mosteghanemi takes her readers through the streets of suspicion and suspense, and the ups and downs of a forbidden love affair, through a story within a story, as a writer stuck in a loveless marriage to an important military man inadvertently writes what eventually comes true.
She begins - after a period of not writing - by penning the narrative of a mysterious man who courts the object of his desire through deceptive words, then she helplessly follows the path of her fictitious character only to find that the mystery man exists and it is he who has led her to his door and into his life. One twist leads to the next, as the question remains of which man the writer was destined to meet and fall in love with - the mysterious artist or the doomed journalist.
This lyrical adventure teases the reader with facts for fiction and fiction for facts. The backdrop of political chaos creates a sense of foreboding and fear for two powerless lovers. But where is reality and where is fantasy?
With its Sufistic parables of the human condition, rendered in a style redolent of both the austere meditations of Borges and the dark engorged ruminations of Arthur C. Clark, Pyramid Texts engages the mind and beguiles the imagination. In a series of chapters each shorter than the last so that, like their subjects, they taper ultimately into nothingness the author evokes the obsessions that have drawn men over the centuries to the brooding presence of mankind's most ancient and mysterious monuments. Among others in a procession of exotic characters, a Moroccan seeker after knowledge spends years contemplating the pyramids in the hope that one day he will understand the mysterious writing that fitfully appears on their sides. Another waits patiently for the moment when the shadow of one will diverge from its accustomed path and bestow immortality, and the Sphinx performs a celestial dance. Pyramid Texts leads us into a world of endless passages and mysterious sighing winds, a world whose claustrophobic and shadowy spaces may be illuminated by flashes of ecstasy leading to scintillating transfigurations and dizzying annihilations.
Here, for the first time, is a volume of short stories from this commercially and culturally vital and vibrant center of the Arab world. Life before oil in this region was harsh, and many of the stories in this collection by both men and women from all corners of the country tell of those times and the almost unbelievable changes that have come about in the space of two generations. Some tell of the struggles faced in the early days, while others bring the immediate past and the present together, revealing that the past, with all its difficulties and dangers, nonetheless possesses a certain nostalgia.
Contributors: Abdul Hamid Ahmed, Roda al-Baluchi, Hareb al-Dhaheri, Nasser Al-Dhaheri, Maryam Jumaa Faraj, Jumaa al-Fairuz, Nasser Jubran, Saleh Karama, Lamees Faris al-Marzuqi, Mohamed al-Mazroui, Ebtisam Abdullah Al-Mu'alla, Ibrahim Mubarak, Mohamed al-Murr, Sheikha al-Nakhy, Mariam Al Saedi, Omniyat Salem, Salma Matar Seif, Ali Abdul Aziz al-Sharhan, Muhsin Soleiman, 'A'ishaa al-Za’aby.
From the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and author of the Cairo trilogy, comes Akhenaten, a fascinating work of fiction about the most infamous pharaoh of ancient Egypt.
In this beguiling new novel, originally published in 1985 and now appearing for the first time in the United States, Mahfouz tells with extraordinary insight the story of the "heretic pharaoh," or "sun king,"--and the first known monotheistic ruler--whose iconoclastic and controversial reign during the 18th Dynasty (1540-1307 B.C.) has uncanny resonance with modern sensibilities. Narrating the novel is a young man with a passion for the truth, who questions the pharaoh's contemporaries after his horrible death--including Akhenaten's closest friends, his most bitter enemies, and finally his enigmatic wife, Nefertiti--in an effort to discover what really happened in those strange, dark days at Akhenaten's court. As our narrator and each of the subjects he interviews contribute their version of Akhenaten, "the truth" becomes increasingly evanescent. Akhenaten encompasses all of the contradictions his subjects see in him: at once cruel and empathic, feminine and barbaric, mad and divinely inspired, his character, as Mahfouz imagines him, is eerily modern, and fascinatingly ethereal. An ambitious and exceptionally lucid and accessible book, Akhenaten is a work only Mahfouz could render so elegantly, so irresistibly.
Disciples of Passion chronicles the civil war in Lebanon through the troubled and sometimes quasi-hallucinatory mind of a young man who has experienced kidnapping, hostage exchange, and hospital internment. As he recalls his village childhood and recounts his relationship with a woman of a different faith, his fragmented narrative probes the uncertainties of political testimonial and ascriptions of responsibility in wartime. Marilyn Booth's fluid translation brings to an English audience one of the Arabic language's finest contemporary novelists. Widely celebrated in France, where she currently lives in exile (from Lebanon), Hoda Barakat writes from personal experience: her novels focus on the civil war in Lebanon and how it shaped the lives of people marginalized by the conflict. Compelling scenarios of war and its aftermath of suffering and destruction are integrated into subtle psychological portraits - with protagonists often propelled into unexpected action.
"The millennial generation's most celebrated literary achievement." Al-Ahram Weekly "The first glimmer of hope for a true fictional renaissance an instantly rewarding read embraced by an unprecedented range of literary figures" The Daily Star "What is madness?" asks the narrator of Ahmed Alaidy's jittery, funny, and angry novel. Assuring readers that they are about to find out, the narrator takes us on a journey through the insanity of present-day Cairo in and out of minibuses, malls, and crash pads, navigating the city's pinball machine of social life with tolerable efficiency. But lurking under the rocks in his grouchy, chain-smoking, pharmaceutically-oriented, twenty-something life are characters like his elusive psychiatrist uncle with a disturbing interest in phobias. And then there's Abbas, the narrator's best friend who surfaces at critical moments to drive our hero into uncontrollably multiplying difficulties. For instance, theres the ticklish situation with the simultaneous blind-dates Abbas has set up for him on different levels of a coffee-shop in a Cairo mall with two girls both called Hind. With friends like Abbas, what paranoiac needs enemies?
In one of his regular columns in Al-Ahram Weekly, Naguib Mahfouz at the age of 89 wrote of his feeling of having reached the penultimate station of his life, and noted how it reminded him of his annual journey from Cairo to Alexandria: at Sidi Gaber Station he begins to prepare his luggage, ready to get off the train, because the next station is the final one.
This celebratory volume, published on the occasion of the Nobel laureate's 90th birthday, brings together a selection of the more personal, reflective pieces that have appeared over the past seven years. They reveal a writer concerned as always with the human condition, with his own thought processes, and with the craft of writing, offering rare insights into the way a great writer thinks and works. The range and quality of writing is even more remarkable when one remembers that since a nearly fatal knife attack in 1994, the injuries Mahfouz sustained, combined with his failing eyesight, have made it almost impossible for him to write. But as a man who has devoted his life to the written word, Mahfouz now prepares his weekly articles through conversations with his friend Mohamed Salmawy, who has selected and gathered the pieces in this collection. Mahfouz fans and anyone interested in learning more about the life, times, and thoughts of one of the major figures of modern Arabic literature will find this volume an essential addition to their bookshelf.
“This first novel by an Iraqi woman to be published in English in the United States is a hallucinatory incantation…an ode to a city…(with) its private courtyards and public baths where the women in Huda’s life rage and pray and love and scream.”—Ms. Magazine
Now in paperback, Naphtalene captures a fierce and defiant young girl as she struggles to form her identity in 1950s Baghdad amid a world of unfulfilled women and family tragedies.
Iraqi exile Alia Mamdouh is a journalist, essayist, and novelist living in Paris who received the Naguib Mahfouz Prize for Literature in 2004.