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Book Tips - Naguib Mahfouz

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1988 was awarded to Naguib Mahfouz "who, through works rich in nuance - now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous - has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind".

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Akhenaten. Dweller in Thruth (Al-A'ish Fi Al-Haqiqah)

He wrote this novel in 1985 as a kind of return to the historical form after his last historical novel 'The battle of Tibha' in 1944. He talked about Akhnaton, the leader of the religious revolution who advocated praying to one god which was symolized by the sun named in Pharonic language as Aton. Mahfouz plays the role of historian in analysing the time of Akhnaton. He represents the spirit of Egypt by writing about different times in Egyptian history, especially the Pharonic time.
/Moatazmohsen, Egypt

Arabian Nights and Days (Layali alf laylah)

I love the novel for its loose structure. There's virtually no plot, it's simply the lives of a number of people in the city of Scheherazade and Shahryar and Mahfouz masterfully walks between the lives of these people. At the end of the, surprisingly short, considering its contents, novel, you don't feel as if you've read a novel; you feel as if you've moved into the city and gotten to know your neighbours and their interesting and entertaining histories.
/Arthur Bijl, Netherlands
In it's re-imagining of the classic '1001 Arabian Nights', this engrossing book lays bare the frailty of the human condition in one fell swoop.
/Zachary Hardy, United States

Children of Gebelawi (Awlad Haretna)

Clear explanation, through a novel, of our religions and beliefs.
/Alejandro Ceballos, Colombia
The novel discusses the political and religious struggle of the alley which symbolises Egypt and the world and the way it's affected by god's messengers and by modern science
/Mahmoud, Egypt
Explores human complexities.
/Eng.Hoori, Somalia
Describes Egypt very well.
/Ahmed, Egypt
It is a mixture of realism, mystery and myth. The believing way is hard in life. Everyone has his own experiment to reach the truth of life's mission. I think the author introduced his own experience in life and his viewpoint about the world and life. No one can prevent the words that describe the real path of our feet on this earth. I think this experience is important to be recorded.
/Ramiz Kameel, Egypt

Heart of the Night (Qalb Al-Layl)

Amazing allegory, daring so much that it contradicts the ordinary man the writer was.
/Sarah Shaheen, Egypt

Khan al-Khalili

This book shows the beginning talent of Mahfouz in 1946. The Giant of Arabic literature (Abbas Mahomud ElAkkad) expected after this novel that Mahfouz one day in the future would win the Nobel Prize in literature and his oracle was done in 1988, when he became the first writer in Arabic zone who won this prize and gave a place for Arabic language beside the others in the international field.
/Moataz Mohsen, Egypt

Love in the Rain (Al-Hubb Taht Al-Matar)

He presents the Egyptian society in the time of 1967. This novel talks about the greatness of the Egyptian people, how they faced loss with great heart, solid face and softly spirit.
/Moatazmohsen, Egypt

Midaq Alley (Zuqaq al-Midaq)

We can know more about El Cairo through Mahfouz novels. This is probably one of my preferred writers.
/Alejandro Ceballos, Colombia
It depicts with vividness the demiurge of an Egyptian history, the despicable inhumanity of everyday affair in a poverty stricken nation, where revolution changes their way of life.
/Joseph, Nigeria
Deep analysis of humans.
/Amal Bourhrous, Morocco

Palace Walk (Bayn Al-Quasrayn)

In short words he is showing: true Cairo, true Egypt, differences between culture and religion, generation changes, lies and the only one truth!
/Marzena Szymanska, Poland
Naguib Mahfouz was able to describe the atmosphere of Arab neighborhoods and their cultural heritage at the bottom of an Arab capital rich in its diversity that is Cairo. The characters he has chosen does not just come from his own imagination, but they were almost all real people known by their names and occupations in their society. On the other hand the Copts of Egypt were present and active in the development of the entire novel, giving the idea of the richness of Arab Muslim society.
/Mohamed Ftelina, Algeria
It's a compelling novel of Islam, viewed in a cultural context. Richly detailed, immensely personal.
/Giovanni Ramos, Philippines
It's a colorful and insightful panorama of Islamic culture and family life. Must-read for any individual who yearns to understand Islam, as a cultural idea, better.
/Gio Ramos, Philippines
The way he instils this idea of karma in the most unseeming places. The actions of life are complex and yet somehow or another you get this whole array of occurrences, I absolutely loved it and I was only fourteen at the time, now I'm twenty three. If I found it illuminating then and I kept coming back to read it, Mahfouz must be a master storyteller
/Liyana, Brunei
This is a family saga, told in a way that allows you to learn about life in early-twentieth century Egypt. Mahfouz is one of those narrators who love all their characters equally with their virtues and vices. His non-judgmental prose presents a multifaceted human nature - one in which strong moral principles can co-exist with lust and debauchery. Don't be surprised if you find yourself reading many pages in one breath. His language will absorb you.
/Elena Zheleva, United States
I like it because it talks about an era in Egypt which I don't live in where there was strong male domination not only in the society but it reached to homes also.
/Amany, Egypt
The Cairo trilogy talks about simple life in Egypt.
/Wedad, Jordan
I love it because it is so fun & so dramatic.
/Amer, Bahrain
I found this novel extraordinarily beautiful. The way that Mahfouz portrays his characters makes them very real to the reader. While reading this novel one will find oneself feeling a part of this family. One comes to care about them.
/Barbara, United States

Rhadopis of Nubia (Radubis)

He wrote his second novel in his life as a historical narrative in 1942 and this novel gave him the Qut El-Qulub El-Demerdashiya Prize from a rich Turkish woman who lived in Egypt and was impressed by his writing.
/Moatazmohsen, Egypt

Tales of the Black Cat: Khamarat Quet Aswad

It's one of the many books Mahfouz wrote. I don't know if it has been translated in English or in any other language, for I read in Arabic, my native language (that explains my awful writing). My friends. I ask you to join me in reading one of the most beautiful yet simple masterpieces ever been written by Arabian proud hands, 'The winery of the black cat', the one living in truth, gossip upon the Nile, the beginning and the ending, the honey moon ... and that is only Naguibs books. And there’s more (over 50) and he's not the only one. There's Elia Abu Madi, Nizar Qubani, Ahmad Shokee - poets. Jubran Khalil, Tah Hussain, Yossif Al-subaai and more ...
/ShahdMohammed, Saudi Arabia

The Beginning and the End (Bidayah Wa-Nihayah)

I like this book because it reflects the reality of the society and its language is simple and vivid.
/Muneera, Qatar
I am originally from the Philippines and now working in Cairo, Egypt. I recommend this book because 'The Beginning and the End' is a social commentary of what was happening during the 40's and 50's in Egyptian society. Reading it today is as fresh a commentary as it was when the book was first published in 1956. The simmering discontent of the working and labor members of the Egyptian society under British rule, is so much the same and resonant to the simmering helplessness of today's Egyptian poor majority. 'The Beginning and the End' also offers a glimpse into the lives of women in a conservative Arab society. It gives a brilliant dramatization on how women views marriage as the only hope to be desired. On how, again, social standing in a class-assigned society even dictates to whom a girl should be married to. And how, having ordinary looks almost always spell the doom of a young girl no matter how virtuous she maybe. It shows a clash of social classes which insinuates that being in the upper class is the only option one can aspire to uplift moral respectability, and sadly it is indeed a harsh reality.
/Jun Tacio, Egypt
A fantastic sketch of modern life in Cairo showing three possible ways of life and how close they are connected.
/Clara, Germany
Realistic and dreamfull at the same time. A strong conflict between the way that people in a society like Cairo must live and the way that they actually do, ignoring the consequences.
/Louisa.V., Greece

The Cairo Trilogy

It gives a very sensitive, subtle and vivid image of Cairo and development of Egyptian culture and ideology in the modern age as you can detect some traces of reasons and beginnings of how things turned out in Egypt, there are also very clear readings in the future that laid out some of the very puzzling facts clear and outloud!
/Amany Said, Egypt

The Harafish (Malhamat Al-Harafish)

It's an inspiring epic written in a beautiful Sufi language. Mahfouz proves to be visionary, he believed in the people so much that the end of the novel is revelation of what happened recently in Egypt.
/Ahmed Sami, Egypt

The Journey of Ibn Fatouma (Rihlat ibn Fattumah)

Fattouma is disappointed in love, so he sets out seeking comfort in wisdom. His goal is the fabled land of Gebel, from which no one has ever returned. First, though, his caravan must pass through five other countries, each distinct in governance and religion, and each delaying Ibn for years. Mashriq is despotic, peopled by naked slaves, and here Ibn falls in love with Arousa and starts a family. War separates them, and he pursues her through Haira, a theocratic police state; Halba, the land of freedom; and Communist Aman. Finally, from Ghuroub, where only reason is worshipped, he leaves to enter Gebel, his journey toward perfection almost complete. This novel is Mahfouz's most purely polemical work, directly engaging the issues of religion and politics that have been the strong subtexts of his previous fiction.
/Dr. Sargon Gorjian, Australia

The Thief and the Dogs (Al-Liss Wa-Al-Kilab)

It is very simple, it is so human. When we read this book we know how great Mahfouz is as an author and as a person, perhaps because I read it in the original language which is Arabic.
/Majed Othman, Tunisia

Thebes at War (Kifah Tibah)

Mahfouz gave his readers a great surprise when he turned a spotlight to the ancient Egyptian civilization, especially in the time of Ahmos who wrote the beginning of the liberty pages in the Egyptian history by attacking the Hecsos army after 150 years of occupation. He wrote about the greatness of the Egyptian people.
/Moatazmohsen, Egypt
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