Midaq Alley is one of my favorite novels of all-time! This novel depicts a reality that is scarcely imaginable to its readers. It combines mystery, war, love, seduction, and death into a unique narrative of Arab society.
“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. With this satisfying tale, Mahfouz, often called the Charles Dickens of Arabic literature, achieves a high level of excellence as a novelist and storyteller. Highly recommended.”
- Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y
Post submitted by: Miqi Cos