Monday, November 26, 2007
I just finished reading the first book in Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Triology: Palace Walk. This was one of those books that toward the end, I didn't want it to be over! Every time I read it I was transformed into the the world of this family living in Cairo... thats a good book, one that makes you feel like you are there. When you put it down you almost have to snap back into your reality.
Mr. Mahfouz is an excellent writer. I really enjoy the way he writes, he is very insightful and descriptive, as far as "tones" and "moods" go. He is a master of smilies... For example, he will say things like, "He chanted slogans with the demonstrators and was zealous with the zealots, but his mind was attached to life and struggled to resist this current, like a tree trunk in a flood, its branches torn off by storms." or "He was like a dog that eagerly devours whatever scraps it finds" ... There are countless smilies throughout the whole book.
Palace Walk takes places in Cairo during World World I. It focuses on one family with a tyrannical father. The book addresses the issue of sex-roles; domineering male, submissive female. ("My opinion is the same as yours, sir. I have no opinion of my own" ~Amina, the wife in the story.) If a man seeks wine and women, good for him, if a woman makes eye contact with a man on the street shame on her. Not only shame on her, but she is as good as dead.
One thing that really stood out to me in the story was how faithful this man's family was to him, no matter how awful he was to them. They were terrified of him and he treated them so unfairly, but they loved him nonetheless and they were all the more submissive. They hardly ever questioned their situation.
Mr. Hahfouz also has a very interesting story: from his books being banned in the middle east, to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, to being murdered by an Islamic Militant.Here is a good link about Mahfouz