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Midaq alley by Nagib Mahfuz
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Midaq alley (original 1947; edition 1981)

by Nagib Mahfuz

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947269,176 (3.82)164
Member:chuck_ralston
Title:Midaq alley
Authors:Nagib Mahfuz
Info:Washington, DC : Three Continents Press [1981] Paperback ; ix, 246 p. ; 18 cm.
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Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz (1947)

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English (18)  Spanish (4)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All (26)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
A soap opera set in 1940s Cairo.

This book made for an interesting book group discussion but I can't say I particularly enjoyed reading it. It seemed to lack flow and was more of a diary of events than a novel, in my opinion.
It's a bit of a cast of thousands, nineteen according to Wikipedia, and they were confusing to grasp at first. Thank goodness for the Kindle's ability to search back for key-words.

All the characters come from the same poverty stricken alley in Cairo in the 1940s. Everyone strives for something better but no-one really achieves their aim. Two characters go off to fight for the British Army and that brings them wealth initially, but it is curtailed by the end of WWII. The factory owner is doing well but his health lets him down...and so on...one tale of woe after another.

I was horrified by one character, Zaita, the cripple-maker. Who would choose to be blinded or crippled just to make them a more effective beggar? They were then obliged to pay Zaita a cut of their earnings in return for his services.

I think it was the extreme nature of the characters that resulted in my failure to connect with them. Each one was more of a cartoon character than someone from a book.
However, I'm sure I now have a better understanding of life in Cairo at that time and I don't regret the time spent reading the novel. ( )
  DubaiReader | Nov 15, 2016 |
I love stories that feature an ensemble cast such as this. Midaq Alley is but one of many such small streets in Cairo. The residents form a microcosm of society – you have amoral profiteers and paragons of virtue, young and old, the beautiful and the deformed, hard workers and lazy ne’er-do-wells.

Over the course of the novel residents of the Alley fall in love, endure heartbreak, commit crimes, fall for promises, take chances at new adventures, become ill, and simply move on with their lives. The characters are frequently seduced by their hopes: If only I had … a husband, a title, nicer clothes, a better flat…etc.

The setting is 1940s Cairo, and the characters are definitely aware of Hitler and WW2. Still, the war is “out there” and what is most important to these characters is what is happening in Midaq Alley. Mahfouz’s writing is wonderfully atmospheric – I could smell the bread baking, or the hair oil used by the barber; hear the cacophony of sound in a busy public square; see the colors and movement of people gathering in a café. ( )
  BookConcierge | Oct 27, 2016 |
Book Description Considered by many to be Mahfouz's best novel, Midaq Alley centers around the residents of one of the hustling, teeming back alleys of Cairo. No other novel so vividly evokes the sights and sounds of the city. The universality and timelessness of this book cannot be denied.

My Review This book is a wonderful rich cultural insight into the lives of men and women in Egypt. Mahfouz brings together a group of interesting characters and weaves a story of fate, love, marriage, money and Western Imperialism that is a page turner to the very end. I will definitely be checking out some of his other books because I really enjoyed his writing. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Middle Eastern women's rights and struggles. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
Written in the 1940s, this novel by the Egyptian Nobel laureate Mahfouz deals with the plight of impoverished classes in an old quarter of Cairo. The lives and situations depicted create an atmosphere of sadness and tragic realism. Indeed, few of the characters are happy or successful. Protagonist Hamida, an orphan raised by a foster mother, is drawn into prostitution. Kirsha, the owner of a cafe in the alley, is a drug addict and a lustful homosexual. Zaita makes a living by disfiguring people so that they can become successful beggars. Transcending time and place, the social issues treated here are relevant to many Arab countries today.
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
A fine example of Middle Eastern storytelling. This story of life in Midaq Alley in Cairo, Egypt presents a microcosm of a small community of people who make up the community. Each person is described to us in a larger than life of soap opera style. This is the early forties, the world is engaged in the battles of WWII but other than that, the people of the alley really have little regard for the war except for how it can profit them, either as employees of the British or the black market. This book presents a people of Islamic faith but also as they are being influenced by Western ideas. This is a time before the rebellion against Western influence has progressed to where it is today. It was an easy read with humor but lots of truths that are timeless. ( )
  Kristelh | Feb 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mahfouz, Naguibprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Branca, PaoloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eksell, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Many things combine to show that Midaq Alley is one of the gems of times gone by and that it once shone forth like a flashing star in the history of Cairo.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385264763, Paperback)

Considered by many to be Mahfouz's best novel,  Midaq Alley centers around the  residents of one of the hustling, teeming back alleys  of Cairo. No other novel so vividly evokes the  sights and sounds of the city. The universality and  timelessness of this book cannot be denied.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

Never has Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz's talent for rich and luxurious storytelling been more evident than in this outstanding novel, first published in Arabic in 1947. One of his most popular books (and considered by many to be one of his best), Midaq Alley centers around the residents of one of the teeming back alleys of Cairo.… (more)

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