Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz draws on his homeland’s rich engagement with the afterlife–and his own near-death experience at the hands of a would-be assassin–in these newly translated, brilliantly mysterious stories of the supernatural.
Among those who haunt these tales are the ghosts of Akhenaten, Woodrow Wilson, and Gamal Abd al-Nasser, who endure a strange system of earthly probation in the hope of gaining entry to the fabled Seventh Heaven; a teenager drawn into the secret, enchanted life he finds within his neighborhood’s forbidden wood; an honest perfume seller accosted on a night out by angry skeletons; and Satan himself, who confesses that there is still, despite the flood of evil in our times, an honorable man in the land. As ingenious at capturing the surreal as he is at documenting the very real social landscape of modern Cairo, Mahfouz guides these restless spirits as they migrate from the shadowy realms of other worlds to the haunted precincts of our own.
Translated by Raymond Stock
About the Author
NAGUIB MAHFOUZ was born in 1911 in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He studied philosophy at Cairo University, then worked in various government ministries until his retirement in 1971. His first three published novels were Khufu's Wisdom (1939), Rhadopis of Nubia (1943), and Thebes at War (1944), all of which are set in ancient Egypt. These political and philosophical critiques disguised as historical romances show the unmistakable signs of a burgeoning literary genius. He went on to write more than 35 other novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous cinema plots and scenarios, many of which have been made into successful films. Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. In 2006, he died at the age of 95.
RAYMOND STOCK, with a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania, is writing a biography of Naguib Mahfouz. He is the translator of numerous works by Mahfouz, most recently Dreams of Departure (AUC Press, 2007).
“Mahfouz’s work is freshly nuanced and hauntingly lyrical.” —Los Angeles Times
“A storyteller of the first order in any idiom.” —Vanity Fair