Naguib Mahfouz
English edition  
March  2015
384 pp.
Paperback
15X23 cm
$18.95
LE150
ISBN 9789774167102
For sale only in the Middle East

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The Harafish

Naguib Mahfouz
Translated by Catherine Cobham

Mahfouz's generational epic tale, now in paperback

In The Harafish Naguib Mahfouz returns to the style of sweeping narrative at which he proved himself a master. He chronicles the dramatic history of the Nagi family—a family that descends, over many generations, from the heights of power and prestige to the depths of decadence and decay. The epic story begins with the tale of Ashur al-Nagi, a man who grows from humble roots to become a great leader and a legend among his people. The name of Ashur epitomizes a time of glory for the harafish, or the common people, when they were led by one of their own. Generation after generation, however, Ashur's descendants stray further from his legendary example. They lose touch with their origins as they amass and then lose large fortunes, marry prostitutes when they marry at all, and develop rivalries that end in death. Finally, a Nagi appears who restores the family name to its former distinction. The Harafish is a mythic tale, a compelling portrait of human weaknesses—pride, dishonesty, lust, and greed—and of the greatness of which we are capable when we overcome them.
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Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) was born in the crowded Cairo district of Gamaliya. He wrote nearly 40 novel-length works, plus hundreds of short stories and numerous screenplays. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. Catherine Cobham is a lecturer in Arabic at the University of St Andrews and head of the department of Arabic and Persian. She is the translator of The Long Way Back by Fuad al-Takarli (AUC Press pbk, 2007) and other works of contemporary Arabic fiction and poetry. She has recently written, with Fabio Caiani, The Iraqi Novel.

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“Beautifully and simply translated by Catherine Cobham, this multi-generational saga of the al-Nagi family moves at a brisk and compelling clip. . . . The Harafish is a whirling dervish of a good yarn, the kind of tale Frank Capra could have made into, well, 19 or 20 good, instructive, ultimately uplifting movies.”—Los Angeles Times<br><br>

“Mahfouz’s consummate storytelling abilities, marked by operatic events, vibrant characters, and resonant writing, result in another triumphant epic.”—Kirkus Reviews<br><br>

“Mahfouz calls The Harafish an ‘epic,’ and his chapters ‘tales’: together they read like yarns spun for the pure pleasure of storytelling.”—London Review of Books

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