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Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz draws on his homeland's rich engagement with the afterlife-and his own near-death experience at the hands of a would-be assassin-in these newly translated, brilliantly mysterious stories of the supernatural.
Among those who haunt these tales are the ghosts of Akhenaten, Woodrow Wilson, and Gamal Abd al-Nasser, who endure a strange system of earthly probation in the hope of gaining entry to the fabled Seventh Heaven; a teenager drawn into the secret, enchanted life he finds within his neighborhood's forbidden wood; an honest perfume seller accosted on a night out by angry skeletons; and Satan himself, who confesses that there is still, despite the flood of evil in our times, an honorable man in the land. As ingenious at capturing the surreal as he is at documenting the very real social landscape of modern Cairo, Mahfouz guides these restless spirits as they migrate from the shadowy realms of other worlds to the haunted precincts of our own.
Translated by Raymond Stock
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.
"Mahfouz's work is freshly nuanced and hauntingly lyrical." --Los Angeles Times "A storyteller of the first order in any idiom." --Vanity Fair