In his final years, Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz distilled his storyteller's art to its most essential level. Written with the compression and power of dreams, these poetic vignettes, originally collected in two books, The Dreams and Dreams of Departure, here combined in one volume for the first time.
These stories telescope epic tales into tersely haunting miniatures. A man finds his neighborhood has turned into a circus, but his joy turns to anger when he cannot escape it. An obscure writer finally achieves fame-through the epitaph on his grave. A group of friends telling jokes in an alley face the murderous revenge of an ancient Egyptian queen. Figures from Mahfouz's past-women he loved, men who inspired him, even fictional characters from his own novels-float through tales dreamed by a mind too fertile ever to rest, even in sleep.
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).
“Cryptic, haunting, and brief. . . . Frequently the narrator begins in delight and wonder . . . and ends in terror, doubt, and confusion.” —The New Yorker“Mahfouz [gives us] a sense of immersion in a mind at the edge of life, a mind returning to its elemental instincts. . . . Mahfouz maintains an unruffled, even humorous voice in the face of these volatile dreamscapes. . . . A fine, surreal filter through which to divine all the elements at play in contemporary Egyptian society.” —The Seattle Times