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Sugar Street

(The Cairo Trilogy #3)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  6,909 ratings  ·  740 reviews
Sugar Street is the third and concluding volume of the celebrated Cairo Trilogy, which brings the story of Al-Sayid Ahmad and his family up to the middle of the twentieth century.

Aging and ill, the family patriarch surveys the world from his housewares's latticed balcony, as his long-suffering wife once did. While his children face middle age, it is through his grandsons t
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 1991 by Black Swan (first published 1957)
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Leslie I have read only Palace Walk so far, and that was many years ago - but it was so good I'm going to re-read it before I continue with the trilogy.…moreI have read only Palace Walk so far, and that was many years ago - but it was so good I'm going to re-read it before I continue with the trilogy.(less)

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Average rating 4.26  · 
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Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decades of whoring and drink have finally caught up with the old roué, Ahmad Abd al-Jawad. He is enfeebled, must eat yogurt at every meal, takes his medication and does not unduly strain himself. I cannot really give a sense of the depths of this man's hypocrisy. He exacted piety for God and himself at home for decades, while participating in the most dissolute of lifestyles with his besotted cronies. For that story you will have to read the two excellent predecessors in this trilogy, Palace Wal ...more
Richard Derus
Nov 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Real Rating: 3.5* of five

About thirty years ago, I worked in the Production department of Delacorte Books for Young Readers. One of the many lovely side benefits of the job was the endless supply of books that floated around the place. I vacuumed the Cairo Trilogy up as it appeared in the halls, outside the doors of the various production managers.

So by the time I got to this book, I was primed. I wanted Kamal's story to reach what I thought the ending should be. I'd spent two books before with
Clif Hostetler
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
Third book of the Cairo Trilogy, this book begins in 1935, some eight years after the end of the previous volume, Palace of Desire. Spanning ten years, Sugar Street is set against the backdrop of the Second World War and domestic Egyptian political unrest. A new generation has grown up since the close of the previous book, the tyrannical patriarch of the family from the previous volumes is now in his dotage, and the matriarch mother is at peace with life making daily pilgrimages to the local mos ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We die and return to life several times a day."

A befitting conclusion to a magnificent story.
Roman Clodia
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Over the course of time, the old house assumed a new look of decay and decline. Its routine disintegrated, and most of the coffee-hour crowd was dispersed. These two features had been the household's soul and lifeblood.

Oh, this final book in the trilogy is melancholy! Flipping forward again to the 1930s and into the war years, the family who we got to know so well in Palace Walk is fading: Ahmad's shop is closed, too many people are dead, and what once looked so strong is collapsing surely a
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I know the Cairo Trilogy is really just one long book, but Sugar Street was the best of the three segments. The first two were kind of soap opera-y, but they served the purpose to get you invested in the family and specifically to understand the forces that had shaped all of them so the heavy-hitting existentialist stuff in Sugar Street had a lot of impact. Kamal, Aisha, Yasin (and their next generation, Abd al-Mun'im and Ahmad) deliver observations and actions that strike to the core of the hum ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Sugar Street is the third and final book in the Cairo Trilogy, and is far better than Palace of Desire, though does not compare with Palace Walk. In this book, we see the second generation after Ahmad Abd Al-Jawad, all of whom take different directions in life. The concept was interesting and the knowledge that one grandson would join the Muslim Brotherhood and the other the Communist Party, provoked me to read the third book in spite of a mediocre second book.

The narrative is rather disjointed
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-egypt

The events of the third and last book of the Cairo Trilogy start 8 years after Palace of Desire and go on till 1944.
We have again, like in the first book, a good balance among the character's lives, the political situation and the changes of society. All this is shown above all through the grandchildren of Abd al-Jawad, but also Kamal's philosophical thoughts aren't missing in this book (and they aren't that annoying like in Palace of Desire). Through Kamal's musings, a huge part of the book
Michael Finocchiaro
I think that Naguib Mahfouz along with Toni Morisson and William Faulkner were among the first Nobel-winning authors that I read. This last tome in the Cairo Trilogy was more interesting than the second volume, قصر الشوق, but still pales in comparison to the first one, Palace Walk. Still, I wanted to see what happened to the various characters. It is hard to get over the depressing fate of all the female characters and to think that 60 to 80 years later, little has truly changed. ...more
This is the third and final installment of the Cairo Trilogy, taking place around 10 years after the conclusion of the previous book. In my previous reviews of Palace Walk and Palace of Desire I indicated that book 1 used the short chapters each following a single character, whereas book 2 seemed to change. These are back in book 3, although Kamal has a larger share of chapters, often two consecutively.

This is a difficult review without introducing spoilers, but it is reasonable to suggest there
Missy J
I just finished Palace of Desire in 2019 and didn't plan on reading Sugar Street until next year. But last month I was looking for something enjoyable to read and so far, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the Cairo trilogy. While the first book introduced us to Abd-al-Jawad's family and the second book followed Kamal's growth and his first disappointment in life, in Sugar Street, time is moving really, really quickly. I thought this was a fantastic technique employed by Mahfouz. When I myself re ...more
The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz is painfully good and I'm annoyed that I've finished it. ...more
"It was sad to watch a family age." Comparing the characters of Sugar Street with their younger selves in Palace Walk is heartbreaking. ...more
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sugar Street, the third book of the Cairo Trilogy, takes place in the 1930s and 40s, a time of great turmoil in Egypt. Besides WWII, there is the constant struggle between Egypt and England, and conflict between political parties within Egypt. There's a new king, prime ministers come and go rapidly, and cabinet ministers come and go right along with them. The economy has taken a turn for the worse, and then war rationing sets in, some items are scarce, and prices go up.

Against this background w
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess giving 5*s to Sugar Street is my apology to Mahfouz (for giving only four stars to Palace of Desire) .... His writing is impressive, and this last novel from The Cairo Trilogy proved it. At least in the last two novels of the trilogy, which I read, Kamal (i.e. a very complex character, the English teacher/Arab philosopher) becomes one of the best defined characters in the contemporary literature, proving Mahfouz's strength as a writer. However intricate Kamal is, Mahfouz walks us through ...more
Dina Borhan
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel so shaken finishing the trilogy I don’t know how to be away from this family now... with such mixed feelings on a journey of characters, places, sounds, smells, dialogues... it is funny how I loved all characters and pitted them ... it is an epic story on all levels
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Volume 3- Mission accomplished. Well worth it.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was so sad to see this end! Why oh why did he not write a fourth installment and 5th ....this family will remain with me forever. I will likely reread this in 10 years.....
Joe Gabriel
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent end to an excellent trilogy. Not quite as good as the first two.
Heidi Burkhart
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The last of The Cairo Trilogy books, this is as beautiful and heartbreaking as the other two books. I am inspired to read more works by Mahfouz.
Feb 20, 2011 added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
After having explored the angst of patriarchy and that of unrequited love, Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy, in its third volume Sugar Street, moves on to the angst of the existential. No one is happy and no one is wise in the al Jawad and Shawkat families as the economic depression of the late 1930s leads into the Second World War; Egypt has modernized, yet in many ways the revolution has stalled. The characters may no longer be under the strict tyrannical thumb of the family patriarch or the Bri ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
An edited version of this article was first published as Book Review: Sugar Street by Nagib Mahfuz on

The parents have aged. What used to be the children are now the parents themselves. And change, in all its dimensions, is in the air. The saga about the al-Jawad family concludes in Sugar Street, Nagīb Maḥfūẓ's third book in the Cairo Trilogy. For the curious, here are my reviews for Book 1: Palace Walk, and Book 2: Palace of Desire.

Sugar Street begins around the time when World
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
The final book in The Cairo Trilogy begins about eight years after the close of the previous volume and provides, somewhat, an end to the story begun many pages ago in Palace Walk. My initial enthusiasm for the trilogy has been somewhat dimmed as the author tried espousing the opposing political views at that time, which did not provide for a driving narrative. The tyrannical patriarch of the first volume, al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, is now an old man, sick and confined to his bed for the most ...more
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers of "Palace of Desire"
Shelves: gay-interest
Aha! I finished The Cairo Trilogy. With this last book, Naguib Mahfouz takes the family of Ahmad Abd Al-Jawad through an existential squeeze.

Sugar Street differs from the first two books of the trilogy, too, because the focus of the book shifts from al-Sayyid Ahmad to his son, Kamal, primary custodian of the aforementioned angst. In a society that has family at its center, Kamal just cannot bring himself to marry, no matter how he tries.

No, Kamal's not gay -- that would be Kamal's nephew, with
The final volume of the Cairo Trilogy was the least interesting for me as a reading experience. It covers the 1930s into the 1950s, following the family from the earlier two volumes. The patriarch and his wife grow old, the sons and daughters move on in their careers as the grandchildren grow up.

The issues during this time in Egypt are political as the country attempts to form its own democratic republic while still being ruled by a king who plays around with the English. These factors are co
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the final installment of The Cairo Trilogy (which, I suppose, is technically all one large book). This book is shorter than the other two and moves at a faster pace. It is also more overtly political and some of the characters, particularly the Ridwan, Ahmad, and Abd al-Muni'm, are more archetypes than three-dimensional people. Still, Sugar Street was a worthy end to such a wonderful work of literature. Mahfouz's style of writing may seem old-fashioned to some, but he is really a master ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The ending, hoping not to give too much away, is brilliant: preparations for a birth and a funeral, and life and death go on. But there's anything but the ahistorical suggestion that life just repeats cyclically. Even though the focus remains on the family, it is riven by history, not only in the spectacular form of World War Two but also in social movements: two brothers, grandchildren of the patriarch Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, are each radicals, one in the "Muslim Brethren,' the other a communist. T ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The final book in the Cairo trilogy, which doesn't tie things up neatly, but ends with characters being imprisoned, dead, unhappy, etc., and Egypt not yet out from under British rule. The family dynamic has changed with the passing of the years, and some characters are now aged or aging while other characters are entering adult life. The family has experienced much sorrow and tragedy, as well as happiness and celebration, and this book continues in that vein. We watch as Egypt is unwillingly mad ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This trilogy is as good as literature gets. It’s a powerful, heartfelt portrayal of an entire nation over a span of three decades.
May 13, 2009 rated it liked it
In my opinion, this was the best of the Cairo Trilogy. It moved faster and was easier to read - perhaps it was because I now know the characters. It is well written, and I enjoyed reading it, in spite of some of the unhappiness in the book. The family of al-Sayyid Ahmad has had hard times. One son died early in the series, but now Aisha's husband and sons have died and her beautiful daughter dies in child birth. The son with all the promise has not been overly successful, and al-Sayyid Ahmad is ...more
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Naguib Mahfouz (Arabic author profile: نجيب محفوظ) was an Egyptian writer who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. He published over 50 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts, and five plays over a 70-year career. Many of his works have been made into Egyptian and foreign films. ...more

Other books in the series

The Cairo Trilogy (4 books)
  • Palace Walk (The Cairo Trilogy, #1)
  • قصر الشوق
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