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Palace of Desire

(The Cairo Trilogy #2)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  7,022 ratings  ·  553 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
Paperback, 432 pages
Published 1991 by Black Swan (first published 1957)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  7,022 ratings  ·  553 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 ...more
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of "Palace Walk"
Shelves: superb
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
Sidharth Vardhan
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nobel, africa
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 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
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 ...more
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 ...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.
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 ...more
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
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
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
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 ...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.
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.
Heidi Burkhart
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So much sorrow and longing. Beautiful in a heartbreaking way.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Much has changed in the family in the seven years that have intervened since the first volume (the three volumes to this trilogy are really one unified whole and must be read in sequence). One brother is dead, and all have aged. Ahmad, the father, who has lost some of his imperious hold over the family, is struggling with his own aging, even as he attempts to continue a life of profligacy every night. In addition, his strict patriarchal control of his family is slipping away. Both daughters are ...more
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
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 ...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
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, the second in the Cairo trilogy (i.e. This trilogy is what many consider Mahfouz's top literary work) .... I did not get a chance to read Palace Walk (the first novel of the three), but was so impressed with Palace of Desire that I jumped immediately on Sugar Street (the last book in the trilogy)!

Mahfouz is the Tolstoy equivalent for Egyptians, he is patiently telling his story - the story of this Muslim family from Cairo, during the first half of the XXth Century. He walks us
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am engrossed in the "Cairo Trilogy," and finding it a fascinating portrait of family life, but also a novel that addresses some of the biggest themes and questions of our time. The conflicts between faith and knowledge, between tradition and progress, and considerations of class and status, are all addressed within the context of Egypt in the 1920s. Even Darwinism, which remains contentious even in 2012 in the U.S., appears in a chapter. As with the first book, Mahfouz portrays all of his ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
oh, I grow weary of recitations of dominant male outrage over not getting their due and unrequited love. the men here are all adolescents wanting to get their way.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mindy McAdams
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The family saga (and to a lesser degree, the story of modern Egypt) continues in this second novel in the Cairo Trilogy. A few years have passed since the tragedy that came at the very end of the first book, and now the grown daughters have children of their own. Little Kamal has grown into a teen about to finish secondary school. He has a group of friends from a more wealthy background than his own, and he is so very in love with the older sister of one of his friends, his emotions threaten to ...more
As a second part, I enjoyed this book less--if only because I preferred 12 year old Kamal to 17 year old Kamal, even though the author's genius is again made evident in this Kamal's desire for purity and his intensely exaggerated feelings and thoughts and aspirations. But I really missed Amina and her relaionship with the men in her family--I don't remember a single chapter in which Amina is the narrator in this book, which does not mean that she isn't, but that if she is, it was not ...more
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The World's Liter...: Palace of Desire (The Cairo Trilogy #2) 49 23 Aug 18, 2016 08:43AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Palace of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz 1 9 Jul 31, 2015 02:21AM  
شخصية كمال 9 117 Feb 02, 2014 08:45PM  
motivating 1 23 Aug 28, 2009 12:26AM  

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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.

Other books in the series

The Cairo Trilogy (3 books)
  • Palace Walk
  • السكرية
“ليست الحقيقة قاسية، ولكن الانفلات من الجهل مؤلم كالولادة.” 160 likes
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