Naguib Mahfouz’s magnificent epic trilogy of colonial Egypt appears here in one volume for the first time. The Nobel Prize—winning writer’s masterwork is the engrossing story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain’s occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century.
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. Al-Sayyid Ahmad’s rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination in Palace of Desire, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s. Sugar Street brings Mahfouz’s vivid tapestry of an evolving Egypt to a dramatic climax as the aging patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician.
Throughout the trilogy, 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. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humor, and remarkable insight, The Cairo Trilogy is the achievement of a master storyteller.
About Naguib Mahfouz
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.
About Edward W. Said
Edward W. Said was born in Jerusalem, raised in Jerusalem and Cairo, and educated in the United States, where he attended Princeton (B.A. 1957) and Harvard (M.A. 1960; Ph.D. 1964). In 1963, he began teaching at Columbia University, where he was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature.
He is the author of twenty-two books which have been translated into 35 languages, including Beginnings: Intention and Method (1975); Orientalism (1978); The Question of Palestine (1979); Covering Islam (1980); The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983); After the Last Sky (1986); Musical Elaborations (1991); Culture and Imperialism (1993); Representations of the Intellectual: The Reith Lectures (1994); Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine and the Middle East Peace Process (1996); Entre Guerre et Paix (1997); and Out of Place: A Memoir (1999). In addition, he edited Henry James’s Complete Stories 1884-1891 (1999) for the Library of America. Besides his academic work, he wrote a twice-monthly column for Al-Hayat and Al-Ahram; was a regular contributor to newspapers in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; and was the music critic for The Nation.
He lectured at universities in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia; was a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, John Hopkins, and Toronto; and delivered the inaugural set of Empson Lectures at Cambridge University, as well as a series of lectures at the Collège de France at the invitation of Professor Pierre Bourdieu. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Royal Society of Literature, and the American Philosophical Society, he was a member of the PEN Executive Board until 1998, and President of the Modern Language Association for 1999. He was awarded numerous prizes and honors, including 20 honorary doctorates from the University of Chicago, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Haverford College, Bir Zeit University, the University of Michigan, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Warwick, the University of Exeter, the National University of Ireland, University of Paris 7—Denis Diderot, Institute of Social Science (the Hague), and several others. In 1998, he received the Sultan Owais Prize for general cultural achievement, and in 1999, he became an Honorary Fellow of the Middle Eastern Studies Association and was awarded the first Spinoza Prize given in the Netherlands.
As a musician, he has collaborated with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a new production of Beethoven’s Fidelio for which he wrote a new English text to replace the spoken dialogue; additionally, he conducted a workshop with Mr. Barenboim and Yo-Yo Ma for young Arab and Israeli musicians in Weimar, Germany.
Professor Said received several awards for his memoir, Out of Place, including the 1999 New Yorker Book Award for Non-Fiction; the Year 2000 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction; the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award in Literature conferred by the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the 2001 Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the 2002 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. His most recent publications include The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After (Vintage, 2000), Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Harvard University Press, 2001), Power, Politics and Culture (Pantheon, 2001) and Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (Pantheon, 2002). His Freud and the Non-European was published by Verso in April (2003).
“The highest achievement of The Cairo Trilogy [is] the creation of memorable characters whose circumstances of life are unimaginably remote from our own, but whose aspirations are the same. The Cairo Trilogy extends our knowledge of life; it also confirms it.” –Boston Globe
“Luminous…All the magic, mystery and suffering of Egypt in the 1920s are conveyed on a human scale.” –New York Times Book Review
“The alleys, the houses, the palaces and mosques and the people who live among them are evoked as vividly as the streets of London were conjured up by Dickens.” –Newsweek
“A masterful kaleidoscope of emotions, ideas and perspective. Mahfouz has captured a family and its homeland at one gloriously varied moment in a cycle.” –Newsday
“Mahfouz presents us with a different concept of the world and makes it real. His genius is not just that he shows us Egyptian colonial society in all its complexity; it is that he makes us look through the vision of his vivid characters and see people and ideas that no longer seem alien.” –Philadelphia Inquirer
WINNER 1988 Nobel Prize