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Midaq Alley

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  8,217 ratings  ·  834 reviews
Never has Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz's talent for rich and luxurious storytelling been more evident than in Midaq Alley, which centers around the residents of one of the hustling, teeming back alleys of Cairo. From Zaita the cripple-maker to Kirsha the café owner with a taste for young boys and drugs, to Abbas the barber who mistakes greed for love, to Hamida who se ...more
Paperback, 286 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Anchor Books (first published 1947)
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Jana Hamida is the main character in this book, as she is the strongest and most fierce woman in the alley. Her character is very significant compared to…moreHamida is the main character in this book, as she is the strongest and most fierce woman in the alley. Her character is very significant compared to all the others.(less)
Christine Parker Mrs Afify. I thought her story could have been more developed

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3.84  · 
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 ·  8,217 ratings  ·  834 reviews


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Jim Fonseca
Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz

We’re in a ghetto in the heart of Cairo during WW II around the 1940’s. There’s a cast of a dozen characters. Some love living there and, some hate it and can’t wait to somehow get out. One young man screams at his mother: “It’s a filthy house, the alley stinks and the people here are all cattle.”

It’s a story of public intimacy in a tiny community.

description

A couple of folks are atrocious people. There’s a so-called ‘doctor’ who operates on beggars to make them look horrible
...more
Sidharth Vardhan
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: list-1001, nobel, africa
I can see why it is called Mahfouz's best novel (although I personally like his 'Children of the Alley' more). It has a large number of well-developed and complex characters built with great psychological insight. The Egypt of second world war comes alive in these pages. The lower middle class characters - barbers, sweet shop owners etc which populate the book are very much like people belonging to similar classes that I have met in India.

Their psychology, their motivations which Mahfouz draws
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Midaq Alley could be any small, familiar place like a small town one grew up in, or the neighbourhood of his youth. Here, it is a street in Cairo, Egypt and the story is set sometime during the second world war. Originally written in Arabic, its main charm is that it takes the reader to where he has never been before: a small street, in the heart of the Arab world, at the time when his parents, or maybe grandparents, were just small boys and girls.

Some novels the reader grapples with. This one i
...more
Brooke
Dec 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Midaq Alley is written by Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian writer who has also written The Cairo Trilogy and Arabian Nights and Days. He has won the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature and is one of the leading Arabic writers, forcing the world to consider Middle Eastern literature seriously. He writes about his homeland, Egypt, and the people that inhabit it. He has been influenced by many Western writers including Flaubert, Zola, Camus, Dostroyevsky, and Proust. This story follows the lives of the inha ...more
Salman Tariq
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
As the story is translated into English, it's difficult to comment on writer's style .
Its not a fairy tale of princess or story of ravaging prince, but a simple narration of street where middle and lower classes (quite unusual of these days, two classes living togather ) live to meet both ends and share miseries of their low lives .

Novel was full of sardonic smiles at midaq Allay , Mehfoz has marvelled putting traits in each character like an expert surgeon , dissecting each character from othe
...more
Kavita
Feb 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: africa, egypt
Midaq Alley is complimented as being one of Mahfouz's finest and most popular works, but I have to politely disagree. It's not that the magic of his writing doesn't shine through and he was unable to bring out the thriving life in the city with extreme vividness, which is his trademark. He did this, and more. He literally brought a mediocre street in Cairo in the 1940s to life. In that sense, Midaq Alley is a huge success.

But I couldn't abide the characters and the excessive melodrama. In giving
...more
Liz Estrada
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Even though I read this book in Spanish, for I thought the translation would be truer to its original Arabic, I'm reviewing it in English so my non-spanish speaking friends may read this and decide to read it.
It is no surprise that Naquib Mahfouz won the Nobel prize in literature (unjustly, the only Arab writer to do so thus far). His realistic portrayal of a relatively poor neighborhood in Cairo at the end of Word War II is captivating from the start due not only to its exotic cast of characte
...more
Marissa
Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz has written Many satirical pieces of literature, such as "The Happy Man", and probably his best-known book, "Midaq Alley." This book describes the strange events of a forgotten, traditional alley in modern Cairo, and satire is used to craft characters from human flaws. Such characters are like Hamida, a greedy and vain stepdaughter engaged to
a barber, a businessman, and a pimp.

One interesting thing in the novel was the characterization; the characters' personal
...more
Adrianna
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Adrianna by: Cafe Libri
Review Dedication: Many thanks to Cafe Libri Yahoo Group member Jeffrey Taylor for an engaging book discussion that aided in my research for this review.

This is the first book I've read by author Naguib Mahfouz, and I was pleasantly surprised by the pace and development of the story and characters. Mahfouz is well-known as one of Egypt's first novelists; he dared to break traditions and focus on a genre that was not encouraged by his country. The passion and love he had for the novel is depicte
...more
Wenxin
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Midaq Alley

Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1911 and wrote many books about the city including The Cairo Trilogy and Sugar Street. He was also the first writer to be rewarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in Arabic. His novel, Midaq Alley, presents an interesting story about life in Cairo as well. The story is composed of many distinct characters with bizarre lives that all unite in Midaq Alley. The differentiated characters exercise very different personalities which result in drama
...more
Sashinka
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
A snapshot of life in an alley of Cairo during the 1940s. The plot is vague because really the novel centres on the lives of the people who live in the alley, from the barber through to the professional cripple-maker. It is incredibly rich in detail and atmosphere and you really can feel that you are there, sympathising and getting angry on behalf of the characters. I enjoyed this a lot.
Hermien
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great writing. Mahfouz creates an intimate atmosphere, almost as if you are wandering around on a stage set amongst the actors with the writer commenting on the characters' thoughts, feelings and actions.
Ram
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yet another book I remember reading.
I read the Hebrew translation a long time ago.
I recall it a very nice book, giving you a taste of a back alley in Cairo with the typical Egyptian people, topics tastes and smell. Remembering this book, gives me appetite to read more books by Mahfouz.
John
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Probably 3.5 stars. The author creates memorable characters and atmosphere, and the individual stories are interesting, yet somehow it felt as if all the threads were not quite tied up.
Kelsey
Dec 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: See below
Naquib Mahfouz is the foothold of Egyptian literature when it comes to satirical writing. Mahfouz began writing at the young age of 17, and had his first novel printed and published in 1939. By the July of 1952, Mahfouz had printed 10 novels. Naquib finally hit stardom when he published the Cairo Trilogy of Bayn al Qasrayn, Qasr al Shawq, and Sukkariya (Between-the-Palaces, Palace of Longing, Sugarhouse) in 1957, and all the world became a stage for his writing. He set the stage for satirical wr ...more
Jessica H
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who can follow sarcasm
Shelves: boooks
"Midaq Alley" is a sarcastic novel of individuals living in Cairo during WWII in the 1940’s. This novel was written by Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel Prize winning author. Naguib also wrote "Bayn al Qasrayn" which began his successful career as a writer. "Midaq Alley", reveals some of the surprising truths in Cairo with wit and sarcasm. The many characters introduced have varying personalities which continue to keep the reader’s interest through out the book. Not only is this novel a deceitful love ...more
Lise Petrauskas
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-east, novels
I was not engaged at all until about halfway into the novel and I think that's because all but one of the many characters populating it were selfish and cruel, pursuing their desires and allowing their moods to dictate their behavior. There was no hero and no central story here to follow. However, gradually the various strands came together and by the end I could see that it was the alley itself, and Cairo, and Egyptian society, that were the main characters. Mahfouz writes about the unpleasant, ...more
DubaiReader
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, kutub-bk-grp, e-book
A soap opera set in 1940s Cairo.

This book made for an interesting book group discussion but I can't say I particularly enjoyed reading it. It seemed to lack flow and was more of a diary of events than a novel, in my opinion.
It's a bit of a cast of thousands, nineteen according to Wikipedia, and they were confusing to grasp at first. Thank goodness for the Kindle's ability to search back for key-words.

All the characters come from the same poverty stricken alley in Cairo in the 1940s. Everyone st
...more
Mobyskine
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I love the descriptiveness. It really shown the scene and incidents happening in Midaq Alley, so thoroughly, so vivid, full of characters and their daily life. Cynical and a bit humorous too. I like that at first I don't really favor the characters that much cause of the personalities, some were so annoying and immoral but towards the end few lessons were shown, like a karma hits. I didn't expect that it ended with tragedy for some characters but the ending was very much showing that after all, ...more
Beth
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a tale of the lives of people living in a small alley in Cairo during WWII. It took me a while to get into it, but eventually it pulled me in, and I enjoyed getting to know the characters and their lives.
Eman Ismael
I'm alway impressed how he writes and describes the places and characters with all these authentic details, but I did not like the novel itself.
Morgs
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recently, I read the book Midaq Alley by Naquib Mahfouz. Naquib Mahfouz is one of the most prominent figures in Middle Eastern sociey. He won the Nobel Prize in 1988 and has written 30 novels and over 100 short stories. In Midaq Alley, one of his most acclaimed novels, he weaves an intricate tale of one of Cairo's bustling alleys. The book has several subplots, and all of them express at least one of Mafouz's views on modernization, greed, tradition, and other predicaments that faced Cairo duri ...more
Daniel
Dec 04, 2007 added it
The book Midaq Alley, by Naguib Mahfouz, takes place in WWII (1940s) Cairo, Egypt. Mahfouz was born in the Gamaliya quarter of Cairo on December 11, 1911. He has published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, dozens of movie scripts and 5 plays. Some of his other works include The Mockery of Faiths and The Struggle of Tyba. Midaq Alley is a novel that follows an episodic structure, and tells the stories of the inhabitants of the alley.
I believe the novel has very few weaknesses in it. One of tho
...more
Michelle
Dec 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who like satire... and some other stuff.
Midaq Alley, written by Nobel Prize recipient Naguib Mahfouz, can be summarized in the 4 P’s: pimps, prostitutes, pedophiles, and perverts. Mahfouz is an accomplished writer, with The Thief and the Dogs, Autumn Quail, Small Talk on the Nile, Miramar, as well as several collections of short stories under his list of works. He is a master of satire. The twisted lives of Midaq Alley’s inhabitants come to life through this ingenious satire. The book's setting is in a deplorable, forgotten back alley ...more
Em
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Midaq Alley written by renowned author Naguib Mahfouz is the satirical and slightly cynical tale of numerous people living together in an alley, where their lives unintentionally coincide. This book’s major themes are greed and love. Most of the characters have a tie to these themes, whether they are looking for love or wealth. Intertwined with these themes are several subplots that illustrate aspects of the Egyptian culture; each character is a representation of a point Mahfouz wanted to highli ...more
Kaitlin
Dec 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Naguib Mahfouz, one of the most prominent authors in the Middle East, is well known for his novel, Midaq Alley. He began writing at age seventeen and has written over 30 novels and more than 100 short stories. He is a winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. His contributions in the world of literature are renowned around the world. Midaq Alley takes place in Cairo, Egypt during World War II. This satire describes the impact modernization has on the city. The characters in the book represent ma ...more
Elizabeth
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everybody.
Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz has once again written a truthful tale on society in Cairo, Egypt. Mahfouz was born in 1911 to middle-class parents in Cairo. Most of his tales tell of the truths and hidden characteristics of society. Midaq Alley weaves the fates of the occupants of the alley itself. The story goes from the deep unrequited love of Abbas the Barber to the business-like cold demeanor of Ibrahim Faraj. In the end, all of these lives blend together and connect in unexpected ...more
A S
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Probably one of the best books I have ever read for Naguib Mahfouz. It is Soap Opera, Cairo style. Unlike his books that were published before this one, I feel this one is more courageous than the rest. Pedophilia, homosexuality and prostitution are among the major topics discussed in this novel. He barely touches on those in his earlier work. However, the most courageous battle this book conquered is the imperfect characters Mahfouz created. What made earlier works of Mahfouz so dull is how he ...more
Chris K
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: my-books
Naguib Mahfouz is well known author from the Middle East. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988 for his great work. Some of his well known novels are 'Arabian Nights and Days', 'Old Egypt', and 'Midaq Alley'. 'Midaq Alley', takes place in Naguib’s hometown of Cairo during WWII. The novel mainly follows the life of Abbas, a barber, and his finance, Hamida. Once engaged, Abbas decides to join the British army to make money for the greedy Hamida. However, during his time away Hamida runs o ...more
Maya Abdelhamid
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
3.7
This was weird. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It was neither satisfying nor upsetting. It's just there lol. There was a lot happening. All the characters are somewhat crazy and that was fun I guess. It's fun to see Mahfouz's criticism of Egypt at the time because I agree with him. Yeah, the book showed a lot of the extremes of people. I guess that is what made it interesting but I had a hard time relating and attaching to the characters since they were very extreme in their ideol
...more
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Reading 1001: Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz 5 17 Sep 17, 2019 10:47AM  

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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.
“من الضرورى أن يوجد فى حياة الإنسان شئ تنعقد حوله آماله، شئ يقرر لحياته قيمة ولو وهمية أوسخيفة.” 58 likes
“هذا هو الحب. هو كل ما لنا. فيه الكفاية وفوق الكفاية. هو فى القرب السرور. وفى البعد العزاء، وفى الحياة حياة فوق الحياة ..” 56 likes
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