Naguib Mahfouz’s magnificent epic trilogy of colonial Egypt appears here in one volume for the first time. The Nobel Prize—winning writer’s masterwork is the engrossing story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain’s occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century.
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. Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three sons–the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. Al-Sayyid Ahmad’s rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination in Palace of Desire, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s. Sugar Street brings Mahfouz’s vivid tapestry of an evolving Egypt to a dramatic climax as the aging patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician.
Throughout the trilogy, the family’s trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two World Wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humor, and remarkable insight, The Cairo Trilogy is the achievement of a master storyteller.
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.
Edward W. Said was University Professor at Columbia University.
William M. Hutchins, Professor in the Philosophy and Religion Department at Appalachian State University, has translated numerous works of Arabic literature into English, including four novels by the Nobel Prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz. He has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for literary translation, both for works by Ibrahim al-Koni. His most recent NEA award was for this novel.
“The highest achievement of The Cairo Trilogy [is] the creation of memorable characters whose circumstances of life are unimaginably remote from our own, but whose aspirations are the same. The Cairo Trilogy extends our knowledge of life; it also confirms it.” –Boston Globe
“Luminous…All the magic, mystery and suffering of Egypt in the 1920s are conveyed on a human scale.” –New York Times Book Review
“The alleys, the houses, the palaces and mosques and the people who live among them are evoked as vividly as the streets of London were conjured up by Dickens.” –Newsweek
“A masterful kaleidoscope of emotions, ideas and perspective. Mahfouz has captured a family and its homeland at one gloriously varied moment in a cycle.” –Newsday
“Mahfouz presents us with a different concept of the world and makes it real. His genius is not just that he shows us Egyptian colonial society in all its complexity; it is that he makes us look through the vision of his vivid characters and see people and ideas that no longer seem alien.” –Philadelphia Inquirer