Palace of Desire is the second novel in Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz’s magnificent Cairo Trilogy, an epic family saga of colonial Egypt that is considered his masterwork.
The novels of the Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. In Palace of Desire, his rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s.
Translated by William Maynard Hutchins, Lorne M. Kenny, and Olive E. Kenny.
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.
William Maynard Hutchins, the principal translator of Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy (AUC Press 1990?92), has taught English, philosophy, Arabic, and Islamic Studies in Lebanon, Ghana, Egypt, and France. His most recent book is Tawfiq al-Hakim: A Reader's Guide.
“Mahfouz tells the story of Palace of Desire with sensitivity and humor, offering deep insights into the human condition.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“All the magic, mystery, and suffering of Egypt in the 1920s are conveyed on a human scale.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A grand novel of ideas. . . . A marvelous read.” —The Washington Post
“In Palace of Desire we see the intricate and complex tragedy of patriarchy working itself out through succeeding generations.” —Chicago Tribune