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Karnak Cafe Paperback – 2 Dec 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (2 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307390454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390455
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 0.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,127,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Naguib Mahfouz was born in 1911 in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. He died in Cairo on August 30, 2006 at the age of 94. Roger Allen is professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Among his translations are Naguib Mahfouz's Mirrors (AUC Press, 1999) and Bensalem Himmich's The Polymath (AUC Press, 2000). --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short novel is built on major specific Egyptian political events, but the author's immense literary craft lifts its themes on a universal platform.

Political regime and social atmosphere
The great hope generated by Nasser's revolution in 1952 (symbolized here by a band of young people) is squashed by the new political strongmen intoxicated by their unchallenged social power.
`A terrifying force operating completely outside the dictates of law and human values' created a sinister Stasi-State: `Our glorious revolution had turned into a siege. We were all living in an area of unseen powers - spies hovering in the very air we breathed. We began to be suspicious of everything even the walls and the tables.'
Why this revolution, `if people were so feeble and downtrodden that they had no personal rights, no honour, no security?'
The regime raped the revolution (the young) and turned its population into pimps and prostitutes.

Political message
Naguib Mahfouz shouts his still highly relevant message loudly and clearly: a total disavowal of autocracy and dictatorship, of any resort to force or violence; rely on the principles of freedom and respect for your fellow human beings; learn from the Western civilization the values of science and of the scientific method.

Technically, the author uses again the Rashomon-construction as in his novel `Miramar'. But here, however, the main characters don't express their own viewpoint on the main incidents, but reveal and clarify the main aspects of the bloody treason of the `glorious' revolution.

With shocking scenes and in forceful prose Naguib Mahfouz condemns a cold political regime without freedom, respect and love.
Highly recommended to all lovers of world literature and all fans of Naguib Mahfouz.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The tale of events that unfolds in Karnak cafe takes the reader to a time and place that is probably not very familiar to many of us - the period after the Egyptian revolution against a puppet king supported by the British after the second world war. The story unfolds through an unnamed narrator, a regular at the cafe, who tells us what befalls a group of students caught up in the changing times. The content is fascinating and the central story device works well, however the translation feels rather stilted. It may well reflect the writing style of the original Arabic and be of its time and place but I found it took longer to get used to than other books I have read in translation. The other negative is the price - £8.56 for a kindle edition of a book just 93 pages long in print seems excessive to me.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book that can be read in a couple of hours, but which resonates for far longer. The four chapters recount a series of events from the perspectives of four different characters, each speaking to the same narrator. As such, the plot slowly unravels and moral expectations aren't always fulfilled as first expected. The setting for the novel is the fallout of the disastrous, for the Egyptians, 1967 war, hence the mood is dark. Nevertheless, this book provides an excellent introduction to the work of one of the twentieth century's finest novelists.
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By Amazon Customer on 7 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having lived in Egyp for a few years was well aware of how afriad the ordinary man is of the secret police. I am actually amazed that Naguib Mahfouz was allowed to write so honestly about his country. Recommend his books about the counrty as it is to all. No wonder they cannot smoothly chane to democracy. All the modern rulers have had pharonic power!
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