Naguib Mahfouz
English edition  
February  2015
312 pp.
Paperback
14.5X22.5 cm
$18.95
LE120
ISBN 9789774167058
For sale only in the Middle East

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Khan al-Khalili

A Novel Naguib Mahfouz
Translated by Roger Allen

A major early novel by the Egyptian Nobel Laureate, now in paperback

The time is 1942, the Second World War is at its height, and the Africa Campaign is raging along the northern coast of Egypt as far as El Alamein. Against this backdrop of international upheaval, this novel tells the story of the Akifs, a middle-class family that has taken refuge in Cairo’s historic and bustling Khan al-Khalili neighborhood. Believing that the German forces will never bomb such a famously religious part of the city, they seek safety among the crowded alleyways, busy cafés, and ancient mosques of the Khan, adjacent to the area where Mahfouz himself spent much of his young life. Through the eyes of Ahmad, the eldest Akif son and the novel’s central character, Mahfouz presents a richly textured vision of the Khan, drawing on his own memories to assemble a lively cast of characters whose world is framed by the sights, smells, and flavors of his childhood home. As Ahmad, a minor civil servant who has sacrificed both education and personal ambition in order to support his family, interacts with the people and traditions of Khan al-Khalili, a debate emerges that pits old against new, history against modernity, and faith against secularism. Addressing one of the fundamental questions of the modern era, Mahfouz asks whether, like the German bombs that threaten Khan al-Khalili daily, progress must necessarily be accompanied by the destruction of the past.
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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. Roger Allen is professor emeritus of Arabic language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Among his translations are Naguib Mahfouz’s Mirrors, Karnak Café, and The Final Hour (AUC Press, 1999, 2007, 2010) and Bensalem Himmich’s The Polymath and The Theocrat (AUC Press, 2000, 2005).

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“Offers readers much food for thought when it comes to many aspects that seem to be opposed, such as traditions and change, or faith in an ever-secularizing world. . . . Expertly translated by Roger Allen, offering fine Arabic literature to English speakers.”—Midwest Book Review

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