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The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street (Everyman's Library) Hardcover – October 16, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1368 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375413316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375413315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 2.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Arabic

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.

Customer Reviews

I love this beautifully written novel.
S. Howe
He gives us characters in their most human form: in both their pain and joy, through their hopes and despairs, and during their perils of love and loss.
Roger Deblanck
The book is beautifully written and won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Albert Imperato on April 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Don't let the size of this book scare you off. The chapters are short and are themselves self-contained stories: they make for perfect nighttime reading installments! And the plot, characters and wisdom of the book are consistently illuminating from the first pages to the very end. It is staggering how effortlessly Mahfouz feeds us the richest possible detail without ever allowing the energy of the story to flag.
In the wake of war in Iraq, an American reader will be particularly enriched from experiencing this novel. It tells the story of three generations of an Egyptian family between the two World Wars and reveals much about daily life in a Muslim family and the manner in which Western geopolitics impacted Arab life and culture. The pull of Western values and ideas on traditional Egyptian culture is so clearly and persuasively presented that the politics, resentments and even opportunities for understanding in today's Middle East suddenly seem much more discernible.
What makes the book a real standout is the way it presents profound life lessons and experiences in such a highly entertaining fashion. Serious political and social issues are explored beside the very real, sometimes ugly and often hilarious foibles of each character. The sincere quest for holiness seems as important and genuine in the lives of characters as the unquenchable thirst for pleasure. Mahfouz never preaches about the "correct path", but rather shares the complicated lives of his characters without sentimentality, prejudice or judgment.
The Cairo Trilogy is a breathtaking, uplifting and deeply affecting achievement. The prose is luminous, the incredible evocation of the sights and smells of Egypt unforgettable, the believability of the characters complete.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson on August 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am so happy to see the Cairo Trilogy finally presented in one volume instead of the three separate books that it was previously issued as......this single volume will really allow the reader to appreciate the scope and continuity of this epic about the struggles of a country and a family, tracing the struggle of each toward independence and in the context of a rapidly changing political and social environment.
All of that said.....let me encourage you to read this wonderful book, which is so beautifully written, a story that pulls you in from the first page and captures your imagination. I always through Tolstoy was my favorite author in terms of character development.....but it's clear to me that Mahfouz is equally talented in rendering characters that seem as real as friends.
I cannot wait to read more by this important author!
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Afony on November 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is probably the best novel written in the Arab world . Writers who tried to mimic it later on like El Aswany in "The Yacoubian Building" were cheap, inexpressive and failed.

Mahfouz offers a profound exploration of his characters; their struggles, inconsistencies, turbulent thoughts and actions. Desire can force them to act against their will and conviction. Their weaknesses compel them to act tyrannical under a vague definition of tradition. And the hardships they face change them beyond their comprehension forcing them into abodes of disturbed philosophical thought. The novel is perfectly interrelated marking the beginning, end, and evolution of each character, place or event mentioned.

The book starts by recounting the mature and established life of Ahmed Abd El Jawad and his wife Amina. He is a tyrannical patriarch, exerting full domination over his family, drawing strict restrictions over their lives while enjoying a sexually corrupt life on his own in prostitute houses.

Until the last pages of the first book the Abd El Jawad family is only suffering from domestic problems that stem from the casual daily life, like Khadija's fear of spinisterhood due to her ugly nose, Fahmy's political life and his love to his neighbour, Mariam,Abd El Jawad's cruelty and compassion to Amina etc... However towards the end, in the last few pages the family is stricken by its first major tragedy: Fahmy's death. This tragedy had major everlasting implications which changed their lives forever.

The second novel marks the eventual changes that occurred to the family. The father's tyrannical image is diminished gradually. Kamal's friends are members of the educated elite society. He falls madly in love with his best friend's sister.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I agree with everything said by the reviewer "imperato", he beat me to the chase. That might tell you something as a reader -- Mahfouz's literature transcends the personal. Again, his writing has qualities that surpass any of the great classics I have known. A soft, yet stimulating style, rich with detail and full of emtotional involvement. You might become enamored with Mahfouz, as I did, and read every last drop he has written. It is no exxageration to say that the ease of familiarity in his writing even surpasses Hemingway. Palace Walk in particular is an intriguing, emotional read. The quality diminishes with each volume, but after Palace Walk you will need to find out what happens next, for this reason you might as well buy the full set of three novels.
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