Isabelle's Reviews > Palace Walk

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
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Aug 12, 12

This is the first installment of Mahfouz's Cairo trilogy. This first novel serves as an introduction to the Al-Jawad family, centered around its tyrannical patriarch Mr Ahmad. He rules his family with an iron fist, but luckily his family obligations do not stand in the way of his libertine nightlife. As daily life unfolds in Palace Walk, with its retinue of weddings, births, deaths, divorces, so does History in this Cairo of 1919, where the British rule starts to fray at the seams.

I was absolutely fascinated by the subtle brilliance of Mahfouz's writing, most particularly by the way he built the whole novel around the idea of duality: Mr Ahmad by day and Mr Ahmad by night, the outside world and the closed world of the house, the house itself and the harem within it, the world of men and that of women, family and friends, power and obedience, the life of the body and that of the soul, and of course the most ominous duality of all: the English and the Egyptians.

This is a fantastic novel masterminded by a fantastic novelist... and a particularly good read now that Egypt has awakened...
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