Jaafar Ibrahim Sayyed al-Rawi 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 café 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 descended 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.
Heart of the Night is a classic Mahfouz gem exploring marriage across class lines, spirituality, and the harsh realities of a precarious life written by one of Egypt’s most celebrated literary masters.