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Children of the Alley (1959)

by Naguib Mahfouz

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7751724,661 (3.95)41
The tumultuous alley of this rich and intricate novel (first published in Arabic in 1959) is inhabited by a delightful Egyptian family, but is also the setting for a second, hidden, and more daring narrative: the spiritual history of humankind. The men and women of a modern Cairo neighborood unwittingly reenact the lives of their holy ancestors: from the feudal lord who disowns one son for diabolical pride and puts another to the test, to the savior of a succeeding generation who frees his people from bondage. This powerful novel confirms again the richness and variety of Mahfouz's storytelling and his status as "the single most important writer in modern Arabic literature" (Newsweek).… (more)
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» See also 41 mentions

English (12)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
كنت اظن قبل ان اقرأ هذه الرواية ان الكتاب الروس لا يضاهون في قدرتهم على الكتابه، لكني اجد نفسي اتراجع عن هذا الموقف امام العظيم نجيب محفوظ الذي جعلني اقرأ روايته بنهم ومتعه لا يجاريها شئ، الجبلاوي ادهم جبل رفاعة قاسم عرفة ، قدرة مذهلة على سرد التفاصيل المشوقة لقصه هدفها فهم الحياة وغايتها، واخيرا في صفحات الملحمة الاخيرة يخبرنا نجيب محفوظ عن سر شقائنا وسعادتنا فحتى لو كان عرفه هو من قتل الجبلاوي او لم يكن فسحره فيه خلاصنا . ( )
  Amjed.Oudah | Jul 26, 2022 |
The fictional history of a gebelawi (alley/neighborhood) in Cairo, but it's really an elaborate allegory for/retelling of Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad. At first I loved it, and that love sustained me through the Cain & Abel section and through the first part of the Moses bit, but then the variation in the saga (and it is, as it seems to me, much longer than it needs to be) leaked out and I lost interest. It's clever to a point, and I think the cleverness would have won out with a bit more editing. ( )
  electrascaife | May 30, 2021 |
I read this some time ago -- I remember it as a beautiful book which shed light for me on Islam. Shelving it for now as a must re-read! ( )
  wickenden | Mar 8, 2021 |
wont get fooled again ..

this book in the surface is a Biblical allegory, yet is very deep and profound about the comments it makes on religion and society. you see this consistent pattern of prophets (jesus, mohammed/etc) temporarily fixing society with a couple new rules and a few exemplary deeds. then a few years later society falls back into the same set of problems it started with and are really not much better off than before just like in the Who song.

( )
  aabtzu | May 18, 2020 |
This is a challenging, complex novel set in Cairo. It follows one generation after another, descendants of a feudal lord, who are in constant, violent conflict. Saviors arrive in different time periods, trying to put an end to the brutality, but each is defeated or before long the violence returns. It would be seen as the endless struggle between good and evil, but the odds usually seem to be with evil. Sometimes the unfamiliar names and the constant references to those in the past made it difficult to follow. Sometimes, I suspect, the translation was a bit awkward. Interesting concept - but felt like it was work to stick with it. ( )
  bookfest | Aug 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Naguib Mahfouzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stewart, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is the story of our Alley, or rather these are its stories.
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The tumultuous alley of this rich and intricate novel (first published in Arabic in 1959) is inhabited by a delightful Egyptian family, but is also the setting for a second, hidden, and more daring narrative: the spiritual history of humankind. The men and women of a modern Cairo neighborood unwittingly reenact the lives of their holy ancestors: from the feudal lord who disowns one son for diabolical pride and puts another to the test, to the savior of a succeeding generation who frees his people from bondage. This powerful novel confirms again the richness and variety of Mahfouz's storytelling and his status as "the single most important writer in modern Arabic literature" (Newsweek).

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