Nicky's Reviews > Midaq Alley

Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
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Dec 11, 2007

it was ok

The book we read in class is called Midaq Alley, by Naguib Mahfouz. Naguib Mahfouz’s is an Egyptian novelist who is very popular in the US as well as Europe. Other works that he has written include Palace Walk, Khufu’s Wisdom, and The Journey of Ibn Fattouma, but Midaq Alley is one of his more known books. Midaq Alley takes place in Cairo, Egypt in a small all called Midaq Alley. The alley is poor and consists of dentistry, barber, a café, bakery, sweet shop, “crippler” shop, and apartments. Everyone within the alley loves to gossip about everything. Despite the size of this alley there is much that goes on and no secret is kept for long. Although this book is eventful, the lack of a main character through out this book is like a bug that does not go away. I found myself always wanting more out of a character, which was never satisfied.
This novel has many strong aspects. One of them includes the development of each character. There are about seven different characters that each has a different and unique set of qualities. In a few paragraphs Mahfouz can describe a character in great detail, almost making him or her real. Because of the character development every chapter and scene is better understood. The action each character makes relates to their personalities and beliefs. A second strength is the setting. The setting of the book mainly takes place in Midaq Alley. This makes it less confusing for the reader to picture the events going on. A third strength is the books interesting events. The author always keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more.
Despite the books strengths there are a few major weaknesses. To begin with, there was no main character. It was hard to get a grasp on the story because each chapter jumped from one event relating to specific characters to another. This makes it hard for the reader to get connected with any one character. Since there is no one major character the reader is forced to understand each and every character like a main character. I found myself trying to relate myself to every character making it hard to get to know one specific character. A second weakness in this book is the sudden jumping from one event to another. This makes the plot confusing and hard to follow. A third weakness is “jumpiness” of the plot. A chapter could be describing an event about one character and then the next chapter would jump to another character. The plot is not one steady stream line of events but many events scattered through out the book.
Overall this books weakness’’ overcome its strengths. Because there is no main character, there is no main plot thus leaving the reader confused asking themselves, “Which plot should I follow/” or, “Who is the main character?” This confusion overcomes the strength that are present during this book. Any older reader who loves reading a book with twisted plots will like this book but most young readers will think it is a waste of time.
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