Laziness in the Fertile Valley

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Overview

A portrait of a family of proud layabouts who avoid work and sleep all day by the Egyptian writer often referred to as "the Voltaire of the Nile"Laziness in the Fertile Valley is Albert Cossery’s biting social satire about a father, his three sons, and their uncle — slackers one and all. One brother has been sleeping for almost seven years, waking only to use the bathroom and eat a meal. Another savagely defends the household from women. Serag, the youngest, is the only member of the family interested in getting ...

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Laziness in the Fertile Valley

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Overview

A portrait of a family of proud layabouts who avoid work and sleep all day by the Egyptian writer often referred to as "the Voltaire of the Nile"Laziness in the Fertile Valley is Albert Cossery’s biting social satire about a father, his three sons, and their uncle — slackers one and all. One brother has been sleeping for almost seven years, waking only to use the bathroom and eat a meal. Another savagely defends the household from women. Serag, the youngest, is the only member of the family interested in getting a job. But even he — try as he might — has a hard time resisting the call of laziness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
Egyptian writer Albert Cossery's second novel (after The House of Certain Death), first published in 1947, provides a graceful—and comical—meditation on idleness and the art of doing nothing. Cossery takes pleasure in showing us a family obsessed with doing nothing: from Rafik, the middle brother who rages against anyone who disrupts his sleep, to Galal, the eldest brother who is so lazy he leaves his bed only to eat and use the bathroom, to Hafez, the family patriarch, who wishes only to sleep and to marry. The one exception to this may be Serag, the sole member of his family to seek employment—yet he does so half-heartedly and in such a self-important way that he becomes the most comic character of all. Some of Cossery's characterizations seem outdated. Mimi, a homosexual character, feels forced as does Hoda, the female servant who is inexplicably devoted to Serag. But as we claw our way out of a global recession, Cossery's message about work is especially germane. For Cossery suggests that if backbreaking work is the only option to poverty, then laziness—a rebellion against drudgery—may be life's most meaningful task. (Nov.)
Los Angeles Times
“Albert Cossery ought to be a household name. He’s that good: an elegant stylist, an unrelenting ironist, his great subject the futility of ambition 'in a world where everything is false.'”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811218740
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/19/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,383,557
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert Cossery (1913–2008) was an Egyptian-born French novelist. Among his works are The Colors of Infamy, A Splendid Conspiracy, and The House of Certain Death, all published by New Directions.

William Goyen was an American writer, most known for his novel, The House of Breath.

Henry Miller (1891—1980) was one of the most controversial American novelists during his lifetime. His book, The Tropic of Cancer, was banned in the some U.S. states before being overruled by the Supreme Court. New Directions publishes several of his books.

Anna Della Subin is a contributor to Bidoun and Harper’s Magazine.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2013

    I enjoyed the book, but my main issue with this particular editi

    I enjoyed the book, but my main issue with this particular edition of the novel is the poor translation, resulting in a few small typos. You can work through them, they are small, but it is just a bit sloppy.

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