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Midaq Alley
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Author won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988

About the Author

Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. His nearly forty novels and hundreds of short stories range from re-imaginings of ancient myths to subtle commentaries on contemporary Egyptian politics and culture. Of his many works, most famous is The Cairo Trilogy, consisting of Palace Walk (1956), Palace of Desire (1957), and Sugar Street (1957), which focuses on a Cairo family through three generations, from 1917 until 1952. In 1988, he was the first writer in Arabic to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in August 2006.

Reviews

Written in the 1940s, this novel by the Egyptian Nobel laureate Mahfouz deals with the plight of impoverished classes in an old quarter of Cairo. The lives and situations depicted create an atmosphere of sadness and tragic realism. Indeed, few of the characters are happy or successful. Protagonist Hamida, an orphan raised by a foster mother, is drawn into prostitution. Kirsha, the owner of a cafe in the alley, is a drug addict and a lustful homosexual. Zaita makes a living by disfiguring people so that they can become successful beggars. Transcending time and place, the social issues treated here are relevant to many Arab countries today. With this satisfying tale, Mahfouz, often called the Charles Dickens of Arabic literature, achieves a high level of excellence as a novelist and storyteller. Highly recommended.-- Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.

Praise for Naguib Mahfouz:

"The greatest writer in one of the most widely understood languages in the world, a storyteller of the first order in any idiom." --Vanity Fair "A Dickens of the Cairo cafes." --Newsweek "The incredible variety of Naguib Mahfouz's writings continue to dazzle our eyes." --The Washington Post "Naguib Mahfouz virtually invented the novel as an Arab form. He excels at fusing deep emotion and soap opera." --The New York Times Book Review "Mahfouz's work is freshly nuanced and hauntingly lyrical. The Nobel Prize acknowledges the universal significance of his fiction." --Los Angeles Times Book Review

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