Palace of Desire
The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 2
By Naguib Mahfouz
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780307947116, 464pp.)
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
Palace of Desire is the second 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. In Palace of Desire, his rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s.
Translated by William Maynard Hutchins, Lorne M. Kenny, 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.
“Mahfouz tells the story of Palace of Desire with sensitivity and humor, offering deep insights into the human condition.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“All the magic, mystery, and suffering of Egypt in the 1920s are conveyed on a human scale.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A grand novel of ideas. . . . A marvelous read.” —The Washington Post
“In Palace of Desire we see the intricate and complex tragedy of patriarchy working itself out through succeeding generations.” —Chicago Tribune