Khan Al-Khalili

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011 - Fiction - 394 pages
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"The time is 1942, the Second World War is at its height, and the Africa Campaign is raging along the northern coast of Egypt as far as El Alamein. Against this backdrop of international upheaval, the novel tells the story of the Akifs, a middle-class family that has taken refuge in Cairo's historic and bustling Khan al-Khalili neighborhood. Believing that the German forces will never bomb such a famously religious part of the city, they seek safety among the crowded alleyways, busy cafes, and ancient mosques of the Khan, adjacent to the area where Mahfouz himself spent much of his young life. Through the eyes of Ahmad, the eldest Akif son and the novel's central character, Mahfouz presents a richly textured vision of the Khan, drawing on his own memories to assemble a lively cast of characters whose world is framed by the sights, smells, and flavors of his childhood home. As Ahmad, a minor civil servant who has sacrificed both education and personal ambition in order to support his family, interacts with the people and traditions of Khan al-Khalili, a debate emerges that pits old against new, history against modernity, and faith against secularism. Addressing one of the fundamental questions of the modern era, Mahfouz asks whether, like the German bombsthat threaten Khan al-Khalili daily, progress must necessarily be accompanied by the destruction of the past. Fans of Midaq Alley, The Beginning and the End, and The Cairo Trilogy will not want to miss this engaging and sensitive portrayal of a family atthe crossroads of the old world and the new."-- p. [4] of cover.
 

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About the author (2011)

Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. His nearly forty novels and hundreds of short stories range from re-imaginings of ancient myths to subtle commentaries on contemporary Egyptian politics and culture. Of his many works, most famous is The Cairo Trilogy, consisting of Palace Walk (1956), Palace of Desire (1957), and Sugar Street (1957), which focuses on a Cairo family through three generations, from 1917 until 1952. In 1988, he was the first writer in Arabic to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in August 2006.

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