Automotive Holiday Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Get Ready for the Winter Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer bf15 bf15 bf15 $30 Off Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals Outdoors Gift Guide on DOTD
Cairo Modern and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $15.00
  • Save: $3.76 (25%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Cairo Modern has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Cairo Modern Paperback – December 1, 2009

10 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$2.19 $0.01

Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book
$11.24 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Cairo Modern
  • +
  • The Yellow Wind: With a New Afterword by the Author
Total price: $26.48
Buy the selected items together

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This new translation of an affecting early novel about love and social climbing by deceased Egyptian Nobel laureate Mahfouz (the Cairo trilogy) follows the fortunes of a Cairo university graduate eager to make his way in a venal 1930s imperialist society. When new graduate Mahgub Abd al-Da'im learns his father is at death's door and his monthly stipend will soon be terminated, he accepts a ministry position out of desperation. There is also a very large string attached: he must marry the minister's beautiful young mistress. The dishonor of this Faustian bargain is further underscored by the revelation that the young woman, Ihsan, was the ideal love of one of Mahgub's university friend's, and the two intended to marry before she was encouraged by her calculating family to accept the minister's seduction. Fallen characters, Mahgub and Ihsan set out on their single-minded path toward material advancement. Mahfouz is a master at depicting shifting forces of motivation, and despite some dated stereotypes, he offers a keen psychological portrait of a complex society in the midst of radical transformation. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Though initially published in 1945, the themes that permeate Cairo Modern written by Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz still resonate today. In 1930s-era Cairo, race, class, religion, and gender are all burning issues in a traditionally stratified society teetering on the cusp of modernity. At the heart of the story is Mahgub Abd al-Da’im, a struggling young student with Nihilistic pretensions, whose desperate attempts to overcome his poverty and lack of status culminate in an arranged marriage to the mistress of a high government official. In a startling twist, he discovers that his bride-to-be is Ihsan, a beautiful acquaintance and the former girlfriend of one of his best friends. Though Mahgub and Ihsan initially think their sham marriage will fulfill their social aspirations and material desires, they find that walking through doors previously closed to them exacts a huge moral and spiritual toll. When their delicately erected house of cards begins to collapse, their fairly palpable despair defines the parameters of their hopeless situation. This tragic tale has withstood the test of time and will especially appeal to contemporary readers interested in the subtle nuances of Middle Eastern culture. --Margaret Flanagan

Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307473538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307473530
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 10 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lonya VINE VOICE on August 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Put on a wig with a million curls,
put the highest heeled boots on your feet,
yet you remain in the end just what you are.

Goethe, Faust.

"Cairo Modern", written in 1945, is one of the great Naguib Mahfouz's earlier works. It is set in Cairo in the 1930s, a turbulent time when the old, decaying monarchical order and British dominance of Egypt entered its last stages. The social order was changing and burgeoning Egyptian nationalists, political radicals and religious zealots rubbed elbows with each other in a society on the edge of a radical transformation. Mahfouz took a snapshot of that society and the result is a book that seemed as entertaining as it was informative.

As noted accurately in the Product Description, the book unfolds like the beginning of a movie. It begins with a long-range view of the King Fuad University. It is evening and the sun shines off the golden dome of the main building. Slowly we zoom into the campus as student leave at the end of the day. It then zooms to a group of friends who, we soon discover in the next few brief chapters, represent a cross-section of modern Cairo (at least that section able to attend university.) The story eventually turns its focus upon Mahgub Abd al-Da'im. Mahgub is hungry in every sense of the word. He is hungry for success or at least the trappings of success and as his family's modest economic means are destroyed by an illness in the family he also finds himself hungering for a decent meal. He also hungers for a beautiful girl, Ihsan, who barely knows he exists. He settles instead for renting affection from a girl on the streets. Ihsan is a modern girl, with modern aspirations. She is also an admirer of western art and literature, including Goethe.
Read more ›
5 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In this novel dominated by a selfish and vicious character, Naguib Mahfouz paints a blackish portrait of his home country, Egypt. The country is undermined by the cancer of poverty (the chasm between the haves and the have-nots), of corruption (the completely biased nomination process of civil servants, bid rigging, fraudulent elections) and of nepotism (the crucial questions are: do you have someone to pull the strings to get you this job? Can you ask the hand of the daughter of a powerful civil servant?)

His world vision is also pessimistic: only money is important and protects a powerful cartel of corrupted people in high places.
For him, religion is only a tiny varnish: a small minority of believers is exploiting the sufferings of many millions of fellow believers.

In this story of the merciless struggle for survival by a destitute, but cynical and opportunistic, student Naguib Mahfouz depicts frankly the violent personal and familial confrontations and the biting and obscene schemings of those in power. He also has no fear to revile bluntly social institutions, like marriage or the civil bureaucracy.
This book is a must read for all lovers of world literature.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Set in the 1930s and published in 1945, Cairo Modern is, by turns, ironic, satirical, farcical, and, ultimately, cynical, as the author creates a morality tale in which life's most basic guiding principles are still undetermined. World War II has kept the British in England as a foreign power, a weak Egyptian monarchy is under siege by reformers, and the army is growing. The plight of the poor is an urgent national problem. As the novel opens, four college students, all due to graduate that year, are arguing moral principles, one planning to live his life according to "the principles that God Almighty has decreed," while others argue in favor of science as the new religion, materialism, social liberation, and even love as guiding principles. None of the students have any respect for their government, which they see as "rich folks and major families."

Among the students, Mahgub Abd al-Da'im is the poorest, and he must literally starve himself in order to finish the school year, becoming more and emaciated as time passes. Finding a job upon graduation is a matter of his whole family's survival. When Mahgub contacts a former neighbor, Salim Al-Ikhshidi, for help, Al-Ikhshidi, in consultation with governmental higher-ups, presents a plan for Mahgub, who is in no position to be selective. If Mahgub will agree to marry the lover of a high-ranked government official and become part of a ménage a trois, all his expenses will be paid and a job will be guaranteed in the ministry where Al-Ikhshidi himself works. Desperate, Mahgub agrees, intending to "find satisfaction in a marriage that was a means, rather than an end." On his wedding day, he meets the bride--the former girlfriend of one of his closest friends, a girl his friend still loves.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Sollami on March 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
This 1945 masterfully executed novel was one of the first from Nobel-prize winner Naguib Mahfouz. A sharp observer of Egyptian society and human behavior, Mahfouz presents a cinematic opening onto the lives of four Egyptian university students in the early 1930s. Each one represents a different segment of Egyptian society. One is a devout follower of Islam and is guided by its principles, another is a romantic and an atheist and progressive socialist, a third is simply a journalist objectively reporting on what he sees, and the fourth, Mahgub, is a self-doubting but distinctly cynical and nihilistic person out to survive and overcome his poverty in a corrupt and cruel nation. Mahfouz makes this student's story the main focus of the novel. In the course of telling this tale, the author presents the huge class differences in Egyptian society as well as its basic corruption and the yearning of its people for change. Nihilism is born of despair, poverty, and perhaps jealousy, and all three of these forces drive Mahgub to choose as his mentor and life guide a cocky government official who has mastered the art of manipulation for his own ends. The sad plight of women is also embodied in the choices made by the beautiful student Ihsan Shihata. Although she is initially seen as choosing to honor her feelings of love for one of the students, her life becomes upended and completely compromised as her family and parents want her only to find a rich man in order to guarantee their economic survival. Ihsan and Mahgub are two of a kind and their story is simply yet brilliantly and dramatically told.

After you read this book, you will understand why Mahfouz was a world-class author. This story still holds up today, even though some references have become dated.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Cairo Modern
This item: Cairo Modern
Price: $11.24
Ships from and sold by