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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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8641610,324 (3.79)121
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 (9)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Set in the Cairo of the mid-1940's, this novel through a series of vignettes depicts the lives of several individuals living in one of the cities alleys. With so many narrators, most are not fully developed into three dimensional people; instead each seems a caricature. However, through the variety of the caricatures and the many episodes, Mahfouz is able to create his portrait of the whole of Egyptian society and the forces beliefs, and habits that seem to thwart any hope of betterment of the characters or their place in society. I found it to alternate between a horrifying and charming world. ( )
  ELiz_M | Sep 28, 2013 |
Mahfuz inserisce il romanzo in un’unita spaziale precisa, come se in realtà fosse il Vicolo stesso, anziché la folta schiera di personaggi, il vero protagonista del romanzo. E’ l’immobilità (del tempo, della società, delle persone), il punto cruciale del romanzo. Vite intere scorrono nel Vicolo, come in un’isola fuori dal tempo. Tutti i personaggi che orbitano intorno ad esso vivono il proprio dramma personale: i ricchi vivono il disagio familiare o il problema dell’identità sessuale, i poveri lottano per una posizione più elevata, cercando di conquistarla con mezzi ambigui. Chi attraverso la guerra, quella che si crede infinita, contro Hitler, fonte di fortuna inaspettata (saranno poi gli stessi personaggi ad autocriticarsi per il fatto di gioire di qualcosa di così orribile). E chi, come Hamida, la giovane opportunista, che cerca fortuna come prostituta, rompendo gli impegni d’amore presi, per lei veramente poco importanti. Tutto questo non può che portare al dramma finale, ma anche di questo il Vicolo si fa beffe e in pochi giorni tutto è passato e tutto resta immobile.
Lo stile di Mahfuz è immersivo e delicato, riuscendo a dipingere Il Cairo nei suoi colori e odori. La gestione dei molti personaggi è fluida e lo stacco tra uno e l’altro non comporta noia o disorientamento, come in altri autori. ( )
  Zeruhur | May 26, 2012 |
Mahfuz inserisce il romanzo in un’unita spaziale precisa, come se in realtà fosse il Vicolo stesso, anziché la folta schiera di personaggi, il vero protagonista del romanzo. E’ l’immobilità (del tempo, della società, delle persone), il punto cruciale del romanzo. Vite intere scorrono nel Vicolo, come in un’isola fuori dal tempo. Tutti i personaggi che orbitano intorno ad esso vivono il proprio dramma personale: i ricchi vivono il disagio familiare o il problema dell’identità sessuale, i poveri lottano per una posizione più elevata, cercando di conquistarla con mezzi ambigui. Chi attraverso la guerra, quella che si crede infinita, contro Hitler, fonte di fortuna inaspettata (saranno poi gli stessi personaggi ad autocriticarsi per il fatto di gioire di qualcosa di così orribile). E chi, come Hamida, la giovane opportunista, che cerca fortuna come prostituta, rompendo gli impegni d’amore presi, per lei veramente poco importanti. Tutto questo non può che portare al dramma finale, ma anche di questo il Vicolo si fa beffe e in pochi giorni tutto è passato e tutto resta immobile.
Lo stile di Mahfuz è immersivo e delicato, riuscendo a dipingere Il Cairo nei suoi colori e odori. La gestione dei molti personaggi è fluida e lo stacco tra uno e l’altro non comporta noia o disorientamento, come in altri autori. ( )
  Zeruhur | May 26, 2012 |
Tale about the lives of the different neighbours who live in Midaq Alley. ( )
  Luli81 | Oct 24, 2010 |
Many of us in the west, when thinking of Egypt, think of pyramids, the Sphinx, and King Tut—especially those of us in the U.S. Bibliophiles might think of the lost Library of Alexandria. If we have had the opportunity to travel, we might add the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, Abu Simbel, Luxor and Karnak to our mental pictures. All wonderful things, but if you are interested in exploring the life of citizens of mid-twentieth century Cairo, spend some time with Naguib Mahfouz in his very accessible Midaq Alley. As always, Mahfouz masterfully conveys the essence of life in the Cairo not visible to the casual viewer.

Midaq Alley is a microcosm. The residents are few. It is very small--two houses with three floors, a café, a bakery, a sweet shop, a barber shop and the offices and warehouse of a merchant. It is the end of World War II. The buildings of the Alley still do not have electricity.

We meet three young people: Hussain Kirsha, Abbas and Hamida. Hussain’s father owns the café. Hussain is the only son. He works for the British Army. Hussain wants to get out of Midaq Alley, and is sure that he will be able to do so through his work because the “Hitler will fight for twenty years!”. Hamida is Hussain’s “sister” because Hussain’s mother was wet nurse to Hamida. She lives with her foster mother, a marriage broker, known as Umm Hamida. Hamida is an angry young woman who desperately wants to leave Midaq Alley, no matter what the cost to do it. Abbas is the young barber, good friend of Hussain and ardent admirer of Hamida. Abbas opened his shop five years before the story begins, and is happy in Midaq Alley. He will leave for only one thing: to make his fortune if it will help him win Hamida as his wife.

Kirsha, the café owner, is a hashish addict and likes boys. He brings scandal to his family. Radwan Hussainy owns one of the houses and rents to Kirsha. Hussainy has endured a life of endless sorrow, including the loss of all of his children, but “his faith rescued him" and he is a happy and holy man. He is also the person to whom the others go with their problems. Mrs. Saniya Afify, a wealthy widow owns the other house. She rents to Umm Hamida, and, at the tender age of 50, has decided she would like to marry again, and wants a younger man. There is also Dr. Booshy, the dentist; Sheikh Darwish, a former English language teacher who lost everything when he was fired from his job but is respected, taken care of and beloved by all; Uncle Kamil, owner of the sweet shop; Zaita, the cripple-maker; Husniya, the bakeress; and the merchant, Salim Alwan, who should be happy with his wealth and his successful family, but is not.

With spare yet expressive language and dialogue, Mahfouz interweaves the stories of the lives of these characters. We spend just a short time in the alley, but are completely entwined as events completely change the future for some yet leave the Alley the same. I was quickly caught up, and the story did not let me go, even at the last page. ( )
5 vote LisaCurcio | Jan 2, 2010 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:35 -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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