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on 28 January 2007
The Cairo trilogy is an essential read for anyone curious about Egyptian history or arab culture. The story is about an Egyptian family from the first world war to the independance of Egypt, but it is also about the importance of traditions in a changing world. Time, as the author himself puts it, is the main character.

Mahfouz's superb narrative and poetic style brought him the Nobel prize of Literature and after reading the three books comprised in the trilogy you will, no doubt, agree that the prize was well deserved. Nicknamed the 'Emile zola of cairo', Naguib Mahfouz managed to create a highly entertaining narrative, while giving a true account of the history of his nation. You will grow page after page more attached to the members of the Abd-el-Gawwad family, so much so that turning the last page, you wish you had still a fourth book to read.Mahfouz draws a portrait of his society without judging the traditions that hold it together.

A true masterpiece fo arab literature, that you will want to read again and again.
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on 3 February 2005
The first volume in Mr Mahfouz's trilogy - Bayn al-quasrayn is its original title in Arabic - is set in Cairo a few months before the beginning of the revolution that ultimately lead to the independence of Egypt from the British Rule on April 7, 1919 (incidentally the year Mr Mahfouz was born). This magnificent tale tells the story of the Abd al-Jawad family who live in Palace Walk. Ahmed Abd al-Jawad and his wife Amina have two daughters, Khadija and Aisha, and three sons: Yasin is a secretary at al-Nashin school and the son of his father's previous marriage to Haniya, Fahmy is a law student and Kamal, a 10 year old boy.
As the reader follows the joys, sorrows and temptations of each member of the Abd al-Jawad family, he discovers what life used to be like in Cairo at the beginning of the last century. Mr Mahfouz's prose is full of psychological insight, both cultural and social observations and the tale is told with great affection, humour and sensitivity. It is also worth praising William Maynard Hutchinsons's achievement as a translator in this edition.
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on 21 February 2009
This is one of my favorite books, I highly recommend it! Please do not be put off by its size! It is a trilogy of three novels, each one neatly divided into small, readable chapters. It is written in straight-forward, simple and accessible language while simultaneously managing to describe life in Egypt beautifully and with attention to detail (without losing focus of the story or going off into tedious descriptions). Naguib Mahfouz has won the Nobel Prize for Literature and this book clearly shows why he deserved it!

The three novels in the book are:
Palace Walk
Palace of Desire
Sugar Street

The story is that of three generations of a family living in Egypt;It begins with al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, the household's 'paterfamilias'. He is a controlling and tyrannical man, who keeps his wife (Amina) on a short leash and dictates to his 5 children as to how they should live and comport themselves. However, once he leaves the house and meets his friends he indulges in all kinds of debauchery and breaks many of his own rules! The children, 3 boys and 2 girls have each got distinct characters and are easy to associate with and tell apart. One of the main characters is Kamal (one of the boys) and the three novels can be seen to represent the three phases of his life from childhood to youth to adulthood. I don't want to give away any of the plot, but it remains interesting throughout all three novels; there are periods of sadness and periods of happiness as occurs in families everywhere in the world. You do not have to be from Egypt to enjoy this book, it is a universal piece of work and I believe it should be more widely read. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did...
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VINE VOICEon 4 September 2011
This was loaned to me and it sat by the front door waiting to be returned, because I couldn't bear the thought of ploughing through such a thick tome. But like other readers, when I realised it was actually three books in one and when I'd run out of anything to read, I had to give it a go. And I am so pleased I did. Fantastic. I have to admit I found the first novel the most enjoyable, but even though I read this a year ago, scenes still come to mind. It was an education, again I knew nothing of the history, but still, it was a story of a family, and what a family.

Uplifting, depressing, all in one go - Egypt's answer to the Forsythe Saga I suppose! If you like to be carried along with tales of family lives in foreign locations, I thoroughly recommend this - maybe not a holiday read, you might have to forgo half the contents of your suitcase, but do read. I'm glad I stuck it out and read to the end, actually I don't think you could do otherwise. Brilliant!
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on 24 September 2013
I could not recommend this book strongly enough to a variety of readers. A wonderful family saga, an insight into another culture, a historical commentary and a political/ cultural criticism.
An excellent copy and swift delivery.
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on 19 June 2008
This has to be one of the best books that I've read in a very long time. I am only about half-way through (at 1,300 pages, it's not for the weak-hearted), but this is a beautiful book. Unlike almost every other book I have ever read, the core of these novels are not the individuals passing through time, but the family as a whole, with its power relationships and ups and downs. There is a death at the end of the first book (Palace Walk), and I was left breathless with admiration for the way it was written. I am no literary scholar, but nothing I've read for a long time comes close. The psychological insight revealed through a clever use of internal monologue makes the workings of the minds of the well-drawn characters immediate in a fresh and challenging way. I love this book, and am only sad that I have to spend my days at work and consequently am limited to my daily commute for the sights and smells of inter-war Cairo.
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on 18 April 2014
Read the first book (paperback) and was hooked. Beautifully written/translated - a slow burn as they say, not something to be hurried. It follows a family in Cairo through 1920's and onwards - a real insight into this era and all the social mores. Bought this Everyman version as cheaper than all the paperbacks together but have to say, very heavy as all 3 books in one.
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on 7 April 2015
Beautiful quality hardbound book and a vivid and elegantly crafted story.
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on 25 April 2015
A novel that will reach inside you and grab hold of your emotions
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on 25 June 2009
I read this wonderful trilogy about a dozen years ago and it still resonates though the details of the plot have long since passed me by. The author won the Nobel prize for literature (in the 90s, I think) and this trilogy shows why.
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