Nearly sixty of Egypt’s past leaders—from the time of the Pharoahs to the twentieth century—are summoned to judgment in the Court of Osiris in the Afterlife, in this extraordinary novel by Nobel Prize–winning author Naguib Mahfouz.
Before the Throne calls forth a parade of those who have shaped the modern nation of Egypt—from the ruler who first unified Egypt in 3000 BC to Anwar Sadat, the president assassinated by religious extremists in 1981, and including figures as various as the famous pharaoh Ramesses II and the medieval vizier Qaraqush. As they defend their decisions under questioning by Osiris, Isis, and Horus, those who acted for the nation’s good are honored with immortality in paradise while those who failed to protect it are condemned either to the inferno or to “the place of insignificance.” Full of Mahfouz’s unique insight into his country’s timeless qualities, this provocative work skillfully traces five thousand years of Egypt’s past as it flows into the turbulent present.
Translated from the Arabic 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 is a storyteller of the first order in any idiom.” —Vanity Fair