The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1
By Naguib Mahfouz
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780307947109, 544pp.)
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
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Palace Walk is the first novel in Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz’s magnificent Cairo Trilogy, an epic family saga of colonial Egypt that is considered his masterwork.
The novels of the Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three sons—the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. The family’s trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two world wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries.
Translated by William Maynard Hutchins and Olive E. Kenny
Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. A student of philosophy and an avid reader, his works range from reimaginings of ancient myths to subtle commentaries on contemporary Egyptian politics and culture. Over a career that lasted more than five decades, he wrote 33 novels, 13 short story anthologies, numerous plays, and 30 screenplays. 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 became the first writer in Arabic to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in August 2006.
“The alleys, the houses, the palaces and mosques and the people who live among them are evoked as vividly in Mahfouz’s work as the streets of London were conjured up by Dickens.” —Newsweek
“Rich in psychological insight and cultural observation. . . . A majestic and capacious accomplishment.” —The Boston Globe
“A tale told with great affection, humor, and sensitivity, in a style that in this translation is always accessible and elegant.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Palace Walk is a feast indeed.” —Chicago Tribune