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Palace Walk: Cairo Trilogy 1 (The Cairo Trilogy, Vol. 1) Paperback – 1 Aug 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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  • Palace Walk: Cairo Trilogy 1 (The Cairo Trilogy, Vol. 1)
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  • Palace Of Desire: Cairo Trilogy 2 (The Cairo Trilogy)
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  • Sugar Street (The Cairo Trilogy, Vol .3)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 Aug. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552995800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552995801
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"It is Mahfouz's wonderful ability to delineate human beings from their outer appearances which gives Palace Walk its universal appeal. I shall read it again and again" (Guardian)

"Naguib Mahfouz's wonderfully readable family saga provides a riveting and accurate portrait of Egyptian society" (Bookseller)

"There is nothing in world literature quite like Palace Walk... This is writing worthy of a Tolstoy, a Flaubert or a Proust" (Independent)

"A masterpiece" (The Times)

"Naguib Mahfouz's CAIRO TRILOGY puts all contemporary writers in the shade. He is the Arab Tolstoy" (Simon Sebag Montefiore Twitter)

Book Description

The first volume in the celebrated Cairo Trilogy.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 1 April 2003
Format: Paperback
When I went to Egypt recently, every Egyptian I met, when I expressed an interest in Egyptian literature, told me to read the Cairo trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz. Once you've read the trilogy you'll realise why he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He tells a gripping story of a family's life in Cairo, interweaving the stories of each member of the family with the wider political events affecting Egypt during the first half of the twentieth century. It gives an insight into Egyptian life which as an outsider you could never otherwise hope to gain. The trilogy is timeless and easily the best three books I have read in the past year.
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Format: Paperback
Palace Walk is the first novel in Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo trilogy. The three books provide a window onto a culture far removed from that of to-day's Western liberalism. His trilogy starts in 1914 and ends in the min-1950s. For our guide to this world Mahfouz uses a bourgeois family living in central Cairo. Their members act as a vehicle for interpreting the effect of world events as they impact on traditional Egyptian society. To ensure that his message is understood Mahfouz makes his story easily digestible for European readers by using the format of a Victorian bourgeois family saga. The roots for this fascinating trilogy of books can be traced back to the high-Victorian novelists of Trollop and Collins. He gives this tradition a modern twist by including comment on the main political events of the time. Although his style is Victorian his theme is not. Mahfouz focuses on two generations of one family and demonstrates how Egypt changed from an introverted, autocratic, chauvinist society to a more liberal and liberated, outward looking culture.
As an Egyptian who lived through this period he shows it to us with a sharply focused eye that can portray the inevitability of the changes and both the positive and negative elements of what was lost. The central character, Al-Said Ahmad, combines a laughing, charming side that he exposes to his male friends and concubines and another of a bullying, inflexible autocrat which he shows to his family. He lives his life as a devout muslim and recognises no conflict between these two sides to his life. In the novel he personifies the old pre-war Egypt and his death at the end of the trilogy marks the end of this ancient culture. Palace Walk, the first book in the trilogy, defines traditional Egypt.
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Format: Hardcover
Twelve years ago, I spent several months living in Egypt. I am an American woman, and at that time, I found much of the culture and behavior of Egyptians to be confusing. Since that time, I have married a Moroccan, and have lived in Morocco for the past ten years. I now feel that I understand much about Arab culture.

Just recently, a friend recommended I read the Cairo trilogy. I began with Palace Walk, and haven't yet read the others. This book is SUPERB. Westerners have trouble understanding how Middle Easterners THINK. This book is so wonderful because it takes you inside the mind of each of the characters, in turn, chapter-by-chapter, showing you how each one of them thinks, and allowing you to see their motivations for their behavior. One person commmented in their book review that the majority of the book concentrated on the male characters. There is a reason for this. Egyptian society is mostly about men, not about women. Even as the society modernizes, the THINKING stays the same. Mahfuz has done a masterful character study of each character in the book, as they go therough their daily lives. Without yet having read the two subsequent books, I expect that I will get more in depth into the women's lives in Sugar Street, because this is the house to which the two female daughters have moved upon their marriages to two brothers.
In the past, I have tried to read some other books by this author, and just couldn't get into them. These books are different. They really do merit the Nobel Prize. Reading them now, after being immersed in the Arab culture for 12 years, I see so many more things than I would have noticed had I read the books first. But living in this culture, I can see how accurate they are, and how the men really DO behave and think like the characters in these books!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A superb read; first in the Cairo Trilogy, telling the saga of a middle-class family living under the hated British Protectorate
. Head of the house, Ahmad, is brilliantly and convincingly drawn - on the one hand he is a strict Muslim, demanding his wife and daughters live in total seclusion, and keeping all the family in a state of terror at his displeasure, yet every night he goes out on the town with his worldly friends to enjoy wine, women and song.
'Was he two separate people combined into one personality? Was his faith in the divine magnanimity so strong that he could not believe these pleasures really had been forbidden?...He found within himself strong instincts, some directed toward God and tamed through worship and others set for pleasure and quenched in play.'
His meek wife, Amina, devotes herself to pleasing him, never questioning his nocturnal excursions, while she looks out on the world through the slits in the shutters. With them lives stepson Yasin - child of a previous, unfavoured wife - who seems to be inheriting his father's immoral ways- and their own four children: sons Fahmy, a law student, becoming increasingly passionate about the anti-British movement, and mischievous schoolboy Kamal plus two daughters awaiting marriage: beautiful Aisha and her older sister, plain, sharp-tongued Khadija.
I couldn't put this down, and intend to read the other two works in near future. Utterly recommended: an Egyptian Tolstoy.
Leaves the female reader glad she doesn't live in an early 1900s Egyptian home, when she reads quotes like:
'No daughter of mine will marry a man until I am satisfied that his primary motive for marrying her is a sincere desire to be related to me...me...me...me' and
'Women are just another kind of domestic animal and must be treated like one'. !!
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