Heart of the Night (Modern Arabic Novels) (Hardcover)
American University in Cairo Press, 9789774164538, 101pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
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A classic Mahfouz story exploring themes of marriage across class lines, spirituality, and the harsh realities of a precarious life.
Jaafar Ibrahim Sayyed al-Rawi, the main character in this most recently translated Mahfouz novel, is guided by his motto, "let life be filled with holy madness to the last breath." He narrates his life story to a friend during one long night in a caf in old Cairo. Through a series of bad decisions, he has lost everything: his family, his position in society, and his fortune. A man driven by his passions, he married a beautiful Bedouin nomad for love, and as a consequence pays a punishingly high price. From a life of comfort with a promising future guaranteed by his wealthy grandfather, he descends to the spartan life of a pauper, after being disinherited. Jaafar faces his tribulations with surprising stoicism and hope, sustained by his strong convictions, his spirituality, his sense of mission, and his deep desire to bring social justice to his people.
About the Author
Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) was born in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1988. Aida Bamia (trans.) is professor emerita of Arabic language and literature at the University of Florida at Gainesville. She is the translator of Papa Sartre by Ali Bader (AUC Press, 2009).