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Palace Walk

(The Cairo Trilogy #1)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  17,749 ratings  ·  1,935 reviews
Volume I of the masterful Cairo Trilogy. A national best-seller in both hardcover and paperback, it introduces the engrossing saga of a Muslim family in Cairo during Egypt's occupation by British forces in the early 1900s. ...more
Paperback, 501 pages
Published 1990 by Anchor (first published 1956)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  17,749 ratings  ·  1,935 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
The story of a tyrannical father in Cairo at the time of World War I. He belongs to the ultraconservative Muslim Hanbali sect. His wife sits outside his bedroom door each morning waiting to be called in to help him dress. His four children, two girls, three boys, kiss his hand each morning. He keeps his boys in line by beating them on the soles of their feet. His children and his wife cannot ask him a question unless they first ask his permission to speak. They call him ‘sir,’ even his wife. And ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz is a work of Tolstoyan proportions, drawing a picture of a place during a certain period through its portrayal of a large number of well-developed complex characters. Though mostly it is a story of a joint family, it expands into the political and socio-religious arena of its times. There is a lot more to this book than I will go into this review of its the first installment of the trilogy, Palace Walk.

The writing in the first few and last few chapters is simp
Two years ago, I spotted Palace Walk in a bookshelf and thought that this might be an interesting read because the last time I encountered a story that has something to do with Muslim culture was in Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and that was it. Still, I always strive to expand my preferences and immerse myself on literature that is more culturally diverse than I'm more used to. In all honesty, I also selected to buy this particular book because of the Nobel Prize Awardee label attached to i ...more
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: egypt
"The Palace Walk" by Naguib Mahfouz is, by far, the best work of fiction that I have read this year and is now one of my top ten favourite novels.

"The Palace Walk" is the first volume of “The Cairo Trilogy.” It centers on the life of an Egyptian Muslim family living through the period between the end of World War I and the beginning of the 1919 revolution against British rule, a time of dramatic change in Egypt.

The novel is an engrossing story of epic proportions. Each character is examined in
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1988 was awarded to Naguib Mahfouz "who, through works rich in nuance - now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous - has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind."

These words hold true here; they fit this novel well. Palace Walk is the first in a series of three entitled The Cairo Trilogy. It was published in 1956 but didn’t come out in English until 1990.

The story is about a Muslim Arab family living in Cairo. It opens in 1917, duri
Richard Derus
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.

The first of three books about deeply if mendaciously pious Al-Sayyid Ahmad's family, his abused and long-suffering wife Amina whose position as his favorite target of rage an
Paul Weiss
“His children were meant to be a breed apart, outside the framework of history. He alone would set their course for them, not the revolution, the times, or the rest of humanity.”

Al-Sayyid Ahmad is a self-righteous, misogynistic and totally domineering bully and tyrant whose ultra-conservative Hanbali sect of Islam rides roughshod over his family like a prison warden. His wife has not been out of the family home and in contact with any men other than her sons for twenty-five years.

“A woman d
Bob Newman
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arab-world
Life with Father----Egyptian Style

Al-Sayyid Ahmad bestrides his family like the Colossus of Rhodes: in complete domination of the scene and brooking no opposition. His wife Amina serves him meekly, offering no opinions, and never leaving the house for twenty five years. He has five children---three boys and two girls---who look upon him as a tyrant, but one whom they must love and respect. Al-Sayyid Ahmad himself runs a shop by day but by night carouses with a group of friends, indulging in wine
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
The way love can disregard fears, however, is an age-old wonder. No fear is able to spoil love's development or keep it from dreaming of its appointed hour.

Palace Walk is a sweeping realist survey of a middle class family in Cairo. The novel covers two years or so from 1917-19, culminating in the Egyptian Revolution which overthrew the British Protectorate. The Abd al-Jawad family is dominated by the father, an ostensibly pious man who forbids his wife and two daughters from being seen, much les
Roman Clodia
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
She told him frankly that he was excessively conservative in his treatment of his family. It was abnormal.

When I started reading this I was immediately reminded of nineteenth century classics such as Middlemarch or Trollope's Palliser Novels, a story where 'the marriage plot' is supreme and where an extended family's dramas play out against a background of political change. But reading the introduction after I'd finished, I see that Mahfouz himself cites The Forsyte Saga as one of his influe
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story of tyranny in the name of protection, showing us a political oppressor and a familial one. While the British exercise control over the Egyptians in Cairo, Al-Sayyid Ahmad does the same over his wife and children behind the walls of their home overlooking Palace Walk. We come to understand Ahmad and his family, and learn what may be behind the desire to control and the impacts that control can have.

Mahfouz uses beautiful, poetic language to tell this story of parallels. He is a ma
Brown Girl Reading
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I started this book in November and then read a little bit in December and finally finished it in January. This novel is best described as an engrossing saga of a Muslim family in the early 1900s. The characters situations and places are described in heavy detail, which make the story very realistic even though it is fiction. The reader can get the full effects of lif in Egypt at this time and the oppressive life for women and for the Egyptian people. Palace Walk is the fir novel of the trilogy ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Originally published in Arabic in 1956, this novel was written by Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the first book of the Cairo Trilogy that was translated into English in 1990.

The setting of the novel is Cairo during and just after World War I, 1917 to 1919. Most of the story focuses on the life of one family living on a street named "Palace Walk," and toward the end the plot spreads to include demonstrations and protests leading up to the nati
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"With my own eyes I saw his blood pouring out."

Mahfouz invokes the memories of Tolstoy, Hugo and Pamuk in the reader's mind, a truly powerful narrator with a keen insight into human heart and soul, be it an individual's heart or the nation's, Mahfouz is an outstanding writer. Loved the book!
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Delicious story of a master storyteller, about a patriarch Ahmed and his family in Cairo, around and shortly after the first world war. The man lives a double life: at home very strict and even cruel, his children and his wife tremble for him, but outdoors he is amiable and he leads a dissolute life, with music, wine and women. But throughout the story some cracks appear in the man's reputation and it ends up dramatically.

This book seems to offer a beautiful introduction to the Arab culture, sp
Despite the fact that the father irritated me intensely with his hypocrisy, I loved this family saga set in 1900 (?) up to 1919 Cairo! I got involved with all the family members and learned a bit more about Anglo-Egyptian relations post-WW1 as well. I can see why Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize!
James Henderson
Sitting in the garden of my friend Jim yesterday with several other readers we were discussing this novel by the Nobel-prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz. Everyone agreed that it was a good read and perhaps even a great book. The reasons center on the characters Mahfouz has created and their relationships--their story. he story is one which takes you back to Cairo, Egypt during the Great War. Palace Walk is set in Cairo, and covers the time between 1917 and the Egyptian revolution of 1919. Most of the ...more
Book one of The Cairo Trilogy, authored by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1988).

This is the story of the life of an Egyptian Muslim family living through the period between the end of World War I and the beginning of the 1919 revolution against British rule, a time of dramatic change in Egypt.

It isn't short book, but it is a relatively easy read. The chapters are short and loosely change from character to character. The character depth is engrossing and each characters story gets
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Men have the right to anything they want and women have a duty to obey” is the philosophy upon which this cast of characters operates, and it sets the stage for moral outrage on the part of western readers, and self destruction on the part of some characters as their world is torn asunder with change.

Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, a successful shopkeeper living in the Cairo neighbourhood of Palace Walk, is literally the king of his domain, ruling his family with a fundamentalist fist, while living a profl
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It’s the most read work for me. Which I do not feel bored with it at all, and how can it not be? It is great to my dear: Naguib Mahfouz.

In silence very quiet night, Egyptian woman stood up and the wait for her husband's views on the top corner of the street, stood in Mashrabia eager, and the listener is enjoying the sight of the street neighborhood spring, and which cuts between them and him are many reasons, no longer have only voyeurism between now and then.

Introduction similar to those line N
Missy J

I have wanted to read this classic for a very long time, but was always hesitant to pick it up. What if I don't get it, the way I didn't enjoy and understand Doctor Zhivago or Midnight's Children? Palace Walk is also quite a big book, so I kept putting it off. Until I made it a priority to read it before 2018 ends. Wow, how mistaken I was! This book is so readable, the characters are so vivid and the plot was easy to follow. I love family sagas that are juxtaposed to the development of a nat
"Palace Walk" is the first book in the famous Cairo trilogy. It is both a classic and historical fiction.
It's packed with humor, wit and subtlety. Wonderful, diverse and colorful characters. All of them are very believable and have a place of their own. Mahfouz gives attention to each character as deserved.

Al Sayyid Ahmad Abd al Jawad, is one of the most memorable characters in literature. Forget three-dimensions, he is a poly-dimensional character. His hypocrisy, double standards and diploma
The Palace Walk is a fascinating portrayal of domestic and political life in Cairo circa World War I. It reminds me of a Middle Eastern version of Little Women or My Brilliant Friend in that it presents a bygone era that is shockingly different from modern sensibilities. The drama of innocent transgressions and socially acceptable abuse is spellbinding.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
The reader follows the everyday life of the Abd al-Jawad family, living in Cairo, from early 1900 under British protectorate to the revolution of 1919. There isn't only the interesting historical background, but what I found more fascinating were the habits and customs of everyday life in this Egyptian family.
There is the despotic father, Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who terrorized the other members of the family; nice, friendly and a perfect buddy outside the household, but an unbearable fathe
PALACE WALK by Naguib Mahfouz, tr. from Arabic (Egypt) by William Maynard Hutchins and Olive E. Kenny / 1956 Arabic, 1990 English.

Mahfouz's first book in his famed Cairo Trilogy impressed me in it's scope, even if it took a few pages for me to "warm up" fully to it. At 500 pages, the book spends several short chapters setting the scene and introducing the large Al-Jawad family. Once that was set in my mind, I was easily drawn into this story.

Palace Walk follows al-Sayyid Ahmad and his wife Amina
May 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
I was frustrated with this book...I was expecting more...
I struggled through the first 150 pages, just trying to become interested in the characters and see where the story was headed. The family was so far outside of my experience that I found them difficult to relate to.

The father was overbearing, cruel, distant, prideful and hypocritical. He saved his best and most pleasant traits for his friends and his family was left with a far-removed disciplinarian. And he never changed. Amina, the moth
Lisa Vegan
I loathed the father and was incredibly frustrated with the mother. I had a difficult time understanding most of the characters. Sometimes, especially when there are the cultural and era differences there are here, I have tremendous interest in a book; here it made it very difficult for me to read it. I’m not sure why as I’ve adored plenty of books with evil or unappealing characters. I did begin to enjoy it a bit more toward the end and I should probably give the next two books in the trilogy a ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
I recall being completely consumed by this wonderful book, despite its tragic nature. The writing style propelled me forward as a reader, and the vivid depictions of the protagonists kept me involved cover to cover. It was only fifteen years later that I visited Cairo on my unique visit to Egypt in the 2000s, and I felt that it had truly not changed all that much, mopeds replacing the horsecarts, from Mahfouz's description. This is one that I need to go back and read again. It is also the best b ...more
Jun 04, 2022 rated it really liked it
This novel (written in Arabic 1950) is set in Cairo between 1917 and 1919 and follows a very conservative Muslim Egyptian family. The settings in time and place - and particularly religious focus and effects really drew me in. The characters were well and very fully created. The father (a well to do store owner) is a terrible dictator and disciplinarian in his home (yet spends the evenings drinking with his friends and female acquaintances). The mother is subservient and very loving. The three s ...more
Adam Floridia
Jul 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star-books
I made it to page 193of 533. It's extremely rare that I quit on a book; I just couldn't force myself to slowly plod through the rest of this. The problem, I believe, lies in the reader not the book.

I wish I could have approached this like a cultural anthropologist, someone who studies cultures without passing judgment. I learned from Vonnegut that such a perspective completely negates any notions of one culture being "better" or "worse" than any other. Unfortunately, I can't help passing judgme
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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 (3 books)
  • قصر الشوق
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