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Palace of Desire

(The Cairo Trilogy #2)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  8,050 ratings  ·  667 reviews
The sensual and provocative second volume in the Cairo Trilogy, Palace Of Desire follows the Al Jawad family into the awakening world of the 1920's and the sometimes violent clash between Islamic ideals, personal dreams and modern realities.

Having given up his vices after his son's death, ageing patriarch Al-Sayyid Ahmad pursues an arousing lute-player - only to find she h
Paperback, 432 pages
Published 1991 by Black Swan (first published 1957)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  8,050 ratings  ·  667 reviews

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Trish Elizabeth
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Volume two,

We are moving further into the 20th Century, seeing the English massacre and dominate Egypt and the resulting hatred of the Egyptians to the British. I have to say I have no idea why we felt it our right to blast into other countries, especially at this time and attempt to rule them. I personally feel from reading the second book that we as a country were truly arrogant at this stage and perhaps we still are.

The family story becomes stronger, the differences even greater, but I loved
Clif Hostetler
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This is the second book of the Cairo Trilogy, that picks up approximately five years after the end of Palace Walk , the previous book, and covers the approximate time span from 1925 to 1927 of the life of a family living in old Cairo, Egypt. The previous book had ended with the tragic death of one of the sons who had shown great potential as a political leader. At the beginning of this book we learn that the father of the family (al-Sayyid Ahmad) had modified his profligate ways during the in ...more
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers of "Palace Walk"
Shelves: superb, literature
This second book in The Cairo Trilogy follows the family and friends of Al Sayyid Ahmad as they pick up the pieces of personal disaster and move on. The grip of the patriarch over his family loosens, and Egypt’s brittle social structure begins to demonstrate unexpected strengths. The action starts in 1924; seven years have passed since the first book ended.

This continuation I thought to be as good as Palace Walk. Here Mahfouz exerts the same masterful control over the narrative. Character develo
Roman Clodia
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Opening some years after Palace Walk, this second book charts the loosening of patriarchal control in the central family, even as Egypt has nominally been given independence though the British are still in control behind the scenes.

The focus is mainly on the men of the family: Khadija and Aisha are both married with children and play only small roles though it's striking that Khadija seems to have inherited her father's will to control in her household (there are some lovely comic scenes around
Sidharth Vardhan
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1-africa, nobel
It pales out when compared to the first volume of the trilogy. The narrator spends far lesser time with the female characters. And the three male characters are all obsessed with desire (love or list as the case may be). There are some beautiful lines all around though the only point of interest is Kamal's troubles as he discovers Darwin's evolution theory and struggles to find a place for his religious beliefs. Kamal is author's alter ego and Mahfouz did go through a similar crisis (which gave ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 0-egypt
I liked this less respect to Palace Walk, the first book of the Cairo Trilogy.
Events start again five years after the end of "Palace Walk". We meet again all the members of the Al-Sayyid Ahmad family (except Fahmy, of course) and kids are grown-up: the two daughters are married and have children, Yasin continues his dissolute life marrying and divorcing, Kamal is now a teen, has to decide what he wants to study, falls in love for the first time and starts to compare religion and science.
The who
The second of the Cairo Trilogy, picks up around 7 years after the end of Palace Walk, [review here]in 1924. The Al Jawad family is moving on from the death of Fahmy, and the ageing patriarch Ahmad is slowly losing control over his family as they move into adulthood.

These books are named for the street where the action mostly occurs - book one for the family home on Palace Walk, this book is named for the house of Yasin on Palace of Desire Alley. The third book is named for Sugar Street, where t
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.

This story was very, very dramatic. Lots happens. The nastiness of Ahmad to his wife Amina, which we'd grown accustomed to, enters a more virulent pha
I am glad that a friend warned me that this second book in the Cairo trilogy would not live up to the first one (which I loved) -- this one, though well written, wasn't nearly as interesting to me. The women in the family are much more in the background for one thing; another is that Kamal, the youngest son, spends long sections rhapsodizing about his first love Aïda. He didn't seem to know her at all; in fact, it was more that he was in love with being in love. Yasin and his father both continu ...more
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elegant, sensitive, humorous, deeply rooted in pain and suffering of the Egyptians and of humans in general. Truly a novel of ideas.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
The second in the Cairo Trilogy, Palace of Desire is set six or seven years after the first book. In this book, Ahmad is still the patriarch of the family but gradually sees his control slipping away, Amina (his wife) is still subservient to her husband but has found some freedom, Yasin (eldest son) has remained unchanged to a large extent but he gets remarried, Fahmy (second son) is dead, Khadija (elder daughter) and Aisha (younger daughter) are already married with children, while Kamal (young ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
The second tome in Mahfouz's Cairo trilogy is the least interesting of the three with perhaps too much interior monologue and too much focus on the male protagonists. However, given the quality of Sugar Street and the continuity of the narrative, it is still a necessary passage. ...more
Missy J
A long overdue reading goal. I planned to read this right after New Year's in January, but so many books got in the way. Last year, I read the first part of the Cairo trilogy and was pleasantly surprised of how readable it was. I wasn't sure if I should continue the second part of the book, but all my friends in GR encouraged me to continue! So I had to!

The second book starts off a few years after Fahmy's death. Ahmad has temporarily stopped with his drinking and partying due to the grieving. In
This is the second book of the Cairo Trilogy.

The story now is at 1920s continuing the family saga of Al-Sayyid Ahmad and his two sons, Yasin and Kamal.

However as a reader, I couldn't get the point of the narrative of this book which reading become boring in some way. By the end of the book, the question remains unanswered: so what Mahfouz?

Lets see what happens in the final book of this trilogy.
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Although published as a trilogy, Mahfouz' story of a Cairo family was originally written as a single novel. "Palace of Desire" is one-third out of roughly the middle of it. The time is now the 1920s, and the focus is chiefly on three characters, the father, Al-Sayyid Ahmad, and his two sons, Yasin and Kamal. Desire as a theme runs strongly through the entire trilogy, and it emerges here in three very different ways. The older man feels the beginnings of age interfere with his extramarital dallia ...more
I learned that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis edited the trilogy in translation.

While Palace Walk focused on the exploits of al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, Yasin, and the males generally, Palace of Desire focuses on Kamal's unrequited love for Aida. Four years of unexpressed yearning consumes most of this second book of the trilogy. It was quite tedious for me, but I despise romance and love stories. Still, I plodded through as the writing remains exceptional and the depiction of the family changes
Daniel Posthumus
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Palace Walk walked so Palace of Desire could run. What an incredible novel—a truly brilliant reflection on both the most person and epic scales. Mahfouz is one of those fantastic philosopher-authors, merging poignant drama with metaphysical and existential musings. Mahfouz delicately layers idea upon idea, plot point on plot point, theme on them, and relationship on relationship.

Mahfouz’s social commentary is more apparent in this novel than the previous one. One of the central ironies of the n
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
The second novel in The Cairo Trilogy begins in 1926, seven years from where Palace Walk left off. Egypt is no longer a British protectorate, after the passage of the Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence in 1922, but it has not yet won complete freedom from British rule. As a result, the country is in a state of relative calm in comparison to the 1919 revolution, but leaders of different factions, most notably Sa'ad Zaghlul of the Wafd Party, continued to press for independence. Egypt ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The second book in Cairo trilogy series, ‘Palace of Desire', is nothing less than a gem. Like the first book I am discovering Egypt that I was blind to earlier. I am captivated by the country and feel ashamed that I knew so little.

Ahmad Abd al-Jawad continues to be a tyrant but he has relaxed his reign. However there is no end to the other side of his personality. The effervescence of his womanising spirit and carnal desire only multiply each passing day. The youngest son, Kamal is a teenager n
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: muslim
" Hearing the drone of falling rain, he glanced at the panes of the window overlooking Palace Walk. He noticed pearly drops clinging to the surface of the glass,which was misty from the humidity in the air.A pearl soon slid to the bottom,tracing on the surface a bright line with a curving path like a shooting star. K-- went to the window and looked up at the raindrops pouring from the heavy clouds. The heavens were united with the earth by these glittering threads.The minarets and domes of the d ...more
Jan 18, 2011 added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
I finally found the time to finish this book. I had to read some other novels for my university and so I kept putting of Mahfouz. He is great though, this book delved deeper into the family and zoomed in on my two favourite characters: Ahmed and Kamaal. I had some trouble getting back into the story and recalling who's married to whom and who's whose child. Mahfouz stays a great author though and I'll read the third book of the trilogy pretty soon. ...more
Najia Syed
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mahfouz came out as a very profound writer in this book. He moved from story-teller of ‘Palace Walk’ to a character analyst in Palace of Desire. Exploring thoroughly the idea of love, struggles of a thinking mind in its break away from the convention it was developed since childhood, toxic parenting, or just life in general. In his deep insights into the mind of Kamal (who is coming of age and now has taken the place of new central character in the book) his move over from a conservative mindset ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Abd-al-Jawaad family saga continues. The dictatorial father remains as feared, but the reins are beginning to loosen. Science begins to intrude upon strict religious belief; morality's binds are coming undone; western influence is becoming visible. It's Egypt's slow but steady walk to modernization. Fascinating, even if some of those long inner monologues can get a bit tedious. ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it better than "Palace Walk". My favorite story-line was Kamal's. His inner struggles and yearnings for Aida are the center of the book. His later sobriety and evolvement (and Evolution) made me relate to him even more. Mahfouz's profound attention to the characters in still evident and dominant here. ...more
Heidi Burkhart
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So much sorrow and longing. Beautiful in a heartbreaking way.
Mattie Vandiver
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Not nearly as good as the first one. A little too philosophical for me.
Ali Nazifpour
This novel is certainly not as well-written as the previous one in the trilogy. It's filled with long and unnecessary monologues that don't add anything to the narrative and it's a bit too sensationalist and hyperbolic in its treatment of characters' reactions to the events. It's very strange as it seems that Palace Walk was written by a much more experienced author than this one.

This said, it's by no mean a bad novel. It's very great in portraying the gradual disintegration of a patriarch's gri
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Palace of Desires, the street where Yasin, the eldest son of Ahmad Abd Al-Jawad, lives, is a fitting title got the second book of The Cairo Trilogy. This volume is largely about the physical passions of the men of the family, and it sometimes borders on the script of a soap opera. The father of the family continues his enjoyment of wine, women, and song, barely keeping himself within the boundaries of respectability until age and health problems intervene. His son Yasin knows no limits and embar ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I eagerly anticipated this book as I had thoroughly enjoyed the first in the trilogy: Palace Walk. It picks up 5 years after the end of the first volume, which closed with the tragic death of al-Sayyid Ahmad's son Fahmy and we meet again the same characters skilfully developed further with the passage of time. The two characters who have evolved the most are Kamal, now a young adult who has graduated high school, is devastated by his passion for the unattainable Aida and has become agnostic and ...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)
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