Anchor Books, Paperback, 9780385423359, 420pp.
Publication Date: September 17, 1997
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, Naguib Mahfouz is perhaps the best-known livingArab writer. His books have had great success inthis country, particularly "The CairoTrilogy." Fans of the famed trilogy will bedelighted with "The Harafish," an epicnovel that chronicles the dramatic history of theal-Nagi family -- a family thatmoves, over many generations, from the height of powerand glory to the depths of decadence and decay."The Harafish" begins with the taleof Ashur al-Nagi, a man whogrows from humble beginnings to become a great leader, a legend among his people. Generation aftergeneration, however, Ashur's descendants grow furtherfrom his legendary example. They lose touch withtheir origins as they amass and then squander largefortunes, marry prostitutes when they marry at all, and develop rivalries that end in death. Thecommunity's upper class keeps a watchful eye on thedescendants of al-Nagi for fearof losing their privileges, but they find no threatof another such as Ashur. Not, that is, until theal-Nagi who, like his nobleancestor, finds his power once again from among"The Harafish," or the common people.Through the strength of their numbers and theirpassion, the glory of the name ofal-Nagi is restored. "Of all Mahfouz's] experiments in recent decades, thisis the one which owes least to western inspirationand is probably the most successful. "TheHarafish," fluently translated byCatherine Cobham, makes accessible and engrossing reading."-- "The Washington Post BookWorld.
About the Author
Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. His nearly forty novels and hundreds of short stories range from re-imaginings of ancient myths to subtle commentaries on contemporary Egyptian politics and culture. 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 was the first writer in Arabic to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in August 2006.