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Palace of Desire: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 2 Paperback – November 29, 2011


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Palace of Desire: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 2 + Sugar Street: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 3 + Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1
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Product Details

  • Series: The Cairo Trilogy (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 2 edition (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307947114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307947116
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this second volume of Nobel laureate Mahfouz's Cairo trilogy, a tyrannical father discovers that his mistress has secretly married his just-divorced son. "A masterpiece, albeit a wordy, very leisurely one, this family saga is well served by a scintillating translation that exposes English-language readers to an Egyptian Balzac," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Al-Sayyid Ahmad is mellowing as he leaves middle age. As this second novel of "The Cairo Trilogy" opens, he is ending his self-imposed abstention from liquor and women, begun five years earlier upon the death of his son, Fahmy. With shouts of joy, his friends welcome him back to their nightly revels, and al-Sayyid Ahmad promtly begins a new love affair. Meanwhile, his children are struggling with life beyond their father's domination. Yasin is twice divorced and incapable of resisting any woman. The two married daughters are split by an open feud. And Kamal, the intellectual center of this novel, enters college, where he suffers the three furies of religion, science, and romance. Through all these avenues, Mahfouz pursues his fascinating examination of Cairo's Islamic culture as it opens to modern influences. This novel continues the outstanding quality of this trilogy, leaving readers anxious for the final volume.
-Paul E. Hutchison, Pequea, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Kamal is hurt terribly in love.
Imperial Topaz
And I must say that this technique made me feel I was inside their heads, viewing their world as they experienced it.
Linda Linguvic
As always, well written, compelling narrative, for the most part.
debra crosby

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on January 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Although published as a trilogy, Mahfouz' story of a Cairo family was originally written as a single novel. "Palace of Desire" is one-third out of roughly the middle of it. The time is now the 1920s, and the focus is chiefly on three characters, the father, Al-Sayyid Ahmad, and his two sons, Yasin and Kamal. Desire as a theme runs strongly through the entire trilogy, and it emerges here in three very different ways. The older man feels the beginnings of age interfere with his extramarital dalliances and his life of nightly good fellowship with friends and female company. The older of his two sons is a heedless Don Juan, bored with his wives soon after he marries them. The younger son experiences his first true love and is tormented night and day, first by her teasing interest in him and then in the discovery of her real feelings. Meanwhile, there is a kind of high comedy in the ongoing conflicts between the father's two daughters and their mother-in-law.

Mahfouz also explores class differences in this part of his story, where Kamal, the younger son, is introduced through a school friend to a wealthy, westernized family. His coming of age, loss of innocence, and discovery of a world very different from the sheltered life he has known make this part of the story especially poignant. References to the changing political climate in post-WWI Egypt reflect the theme of national independence from British dominance that Mahfouz has followed from the beginning of the trilogy. Altogether, Mahfouz' family saga, with its interwoven threads of related storylines is a joy to read.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on March 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I do consulting in the refining and petrochemical industries and have, as a result, struck up several friendships with Arabs and Arab-Americans working in those facilities. Once I asked several acquaintances if there were are well-regarded Arab writers with good English translations available that could help me as an American better understand the modern Arab experience and worldview. Several recommended The Cairo trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street) by Naguib Mahfouz. It covers a time period that would provide an excellent overview into 20th century Arab experience both politically and socially, especially vis-à-vis Arab/Western interaction. It is a family saga and therefore provides a good view of modern Arab family life and the affects modernization has had on it. It's urban setting and action would be more familiar to Americans than a more rural tale. The books are written from a genuinely Arabic sensibility language-wise-a sensibility not overly degraded by translation. And, finally, it would be a "less difficult" introduction to Arabic culture than other possibilities.
It should be noted that "less difficult" is not that same as "easy" or "easier". This marks an important distinction, one underscored by these books. Arabic language, society and sensibilities are colored much more by nuances and multiple permutations on a few basic themes than is true in Western society.
Naguib Mahfouz is a Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist who adeptly and adroitly captures these nuances and evokes a genuine feel for-if not true understanding of-their intrinsic roots within the Arabic weltanschauung.
Clearly, based on the reviews to date for this book, there are many who have difficulty with this dynamic.
Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Krichman on January 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
It's tough to think of Palace of Desire as a stand-alone book. It wouldn't make any sense outside of the context of the trilogy that it's a part of. A reader would be lost if he simply picked this off the shelf and started reading without having read Palace Walk. And likewise, you would feel unsatisfied if you stopped at the end of this book instead of continuing on with the final installment of the trilogy.

Of course, no one (least of all the author) would argue that point. This was all meant to be one book from the start, and that's pretty obvious. But since there aren't all that many people out there with the patience to read an eleven-hundred-page book....well, that's why this is three books and not one huge one.

Part two of the trilogy is just as fascinating as part one. Each of the characters is up to his same old tricks. Yasin is getting married, and divorced, and married again, and still visiting prostitutes - sometimes the same ones that his dad is visiting. Kamal is enrolling in the Teachers' School, against his father's wishes, and starting to lose his faith in religion as he learns more about science, philosophy, and the world around him. And throughout it all, Egypt is portrayed as a country very much in transition. The traditional elements of society are precariously juxtaposed against the liberal forces of change. And this inevitably causes sparks to fly.

It's easy to see why Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize. He's more than just a great writer; he's also an eloquent voice speaking on behalf of a fascinating country in a fascinating time.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ahmet E. Gumrukcuoglu on June 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
A marvellous sequel to "Palace Walk". It's a book about love, religion, despair, love, life and love once more. Moreover, the Kamal character gives signs of young Mahfouz who passed first half of his life unmarried. The best and most disturbing Mahfouz novel I've ever read.
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More About the Author

Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. A student of philosophy and an avid reader, he has been influenced by many Western writers, including Flaubert, Balzac, Zola, Camus, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and, above all, Proust. He has more than thirty novels to his credit, ranging from his earliest historical romances to his most recent experimental novels. In 1988, Mr Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He lives in the Cairo suburb of Agouza with his wife and two daughters.

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Palace of Desire: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 2
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