Midaq Alley

Midaq Alley

3.2 18
by Naguib Mahfouz, Humphrey Davies

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This much-loved Mahfouz masterpiece is a rich account of life in a back street in a poor quarter of medieval Cairo. While the novel focuses on a willful young woman whose ambition to escape the confines of the alley leads her into prostitution, a pageant of other vivid characters, from the café owner who likes boys to the man who creates maimed beggars and


This much-loved Mahfouz masterpiece is a rich account of life in a back street in a poor quarter of medieval Cairo. While the novel focuses on a willful young woman whose ambition to escape the confines of the alley leads her into prostitution, a pageant of other vivid characters, from the café owner who likes boys to the man who creates maimed beggars and from the young man with the faithful heart to the rake and the pimp, fleshes out the picture of a society in crisis and transition. Though set during the Second World War, the characters' alienation from the prevailing political system and the desire of many of them to escape the economic and social stagnation of the alley give the work an unexpectedly up-to-date flavor. Mahfouz presents his characters with wry humor and a relish for the contradictions and fallibilities innate in people everywhere (even the alley's beloved spiritual mentor beats his wife). This new translation of one the writer's best known works has been undertaken to celebrate the centenary of his birth on 11 December 2011.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Written in the 1940s, this novel by the Egyptian Nobel laureate Mahfouz deals with the plight of impoverished classes in an old quarter of Cairo. The lives and situations depicted create an atmosphere of sadness and tragic realism. Indeed, few of the characters are happy or successful. Protagonist Hamida, an orphan raised by a foster mother, is drawn into prostitution. Kirsha, the owner of a cafe in the alley, is a drug addict and a lustful homosexual. Zaita makes a living by disfiguring people so that they can become successful beggars. Transcending time and place, the social issues treated here are relevant to many Arab countries today. With this satisfying tale, Mahfouz, often called the Charles Dickens of Arabic literature, achieves a high level of excellence as a novelist and storyteller. Highly recommended.-- Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.

Product Details

American University in Cairo Press, The
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

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.

Humphrey Davies is the translator of a number of Arabic novels, including The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (AUC Press, 2004). He has twice won the Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translations for his translations of novels by Elias Khoury.

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Midaq Alley 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought Midaq Alley was an okay book. I love reading, but Midaq Alley did not grab my attention like other books do. Truthfully I found it almost boring. Some chapters were really slow, and then others seemed to speed up somewhat. I wouldn't reccomend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Midaq Alley is a tiny, poor neighborhood that is affected by world war 2. Several males wantes Hamida's lovely young daughter, who is engaged in turn to several men but ends up an exotic dancer and prostitute after being sweet-talked by handsome and wealthy pimp Ibraham Faraj. I personal think that this book was confusing but, if you really put thought into it you could understand it. It didnt really catch my attention. Overall, it was an okay book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book Midaq Alley it is hard to follow all of the characters in this book because it jumps around a lot. Personally i did not like this book that much because it never really caught my attention. Personally i would not suggest this book to other people ecspecially younger ones because they will have a hard time understanding what is going all. Eventhough it had some interesting stories i would not read it agian.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A superb book, thats it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. One of the only things missing was the depth in each character. I wanted to learn about each character further into the book, but the book didn¿t supply much extra information about each the characters. Mahfouz¿s is a good writer though. He gave great description of the settings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book i thought was just alright. I had a hard time getting into the book because it just was not that exciting. Also it was kind of hard to follow because it kept jumping around from characters and i never could tell who the main character was. I probably would not recomend this to other people especialy younger ones because it is hard to follow and unless you like a challenge and like to read some different types of stories i would stay away from this book. Other then that it has some interesting and catchy stories so if you are into that type of stuff go ahead.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Midaq Alley isn't the type of book i would normally choose to read. Although it had a lot of major events going on throughout the story, i just could not 'get into it'. However, i did learn a lot about African culture that both took my by surprise and interested me in learning more. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy learning about families and their different cultures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Midaq Alley is a story that takes place in Nigeria, Africa. There are plenty of characters that will keep you on your feet. Each character is explained in full detail. All of the characters are introduced right off the bat which is a great way to start a story. Midaq Alley is a type a story a high schooler would read even a middle schooler if they were really interested in different kinds of books. I didn't really like this book but I had to read it because it was for a school thing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was very interesting with many big events, which they all took place in a town, Midaq Alley. The story wasn't really based on one main character which made me upset because the book was kind of random. The book was so interesting that it made me read the whole book in two days because new events were happening in the story every chapter. The book was not boring at all because of new things happening all the time. Therefore, I recommend this book to readers who like to learn about cultures from the Middle East.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the book Midaq Alley was a hard book to read and kind of confusing. It was alright at some parts but mostly confusing. I would not recommend this book to read if you are not a advanced reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did not really like this book so much... it never really got me hooked to it. the plot of the story was a little bit confusing.I liked the way that the author showed the life of people in 2nd world countries,and how they made the most of what they had.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was not my favorite story it can get very hard to follow at some points. But mostly overall the characters are generally interesting, like the Cafe owner who has a taste for Drugs and young boys. Its got a unique way of telling the story and its generally interesting to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Midaq Alley is a good story to read on free time. The charaters are introduced in depth, and each have their own personal storys and thoughts. The book has lots of ideas that can be undestood by older readers, such as some of the jokes, which leave it for older readers to understand the text completly. The book has some surprising twists and turns that make you want to keep reading and finish the chapter. This book is surprisingly well writen, with in-depth characters and settings. I can recommened this book to readers in high school looking for a change in pace of regular books. This book, however, is not a pick up and read book. To understand the book and plot, you must read all of the pages and chapters, and not just skim. Overall, this was a good book and I recommened this book for any reader that wants an intresting and different book. Enjoy reading!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was good but it could have been better. The reason while I didn't love it is because it didn't have on distinct main character. It jumped around from character to character. It got a little confusing. But over all it was o.k. I would recommend it for older groups and not little kids.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story will keep any writer hooked once they understand it. This was a great read for me. However it skipped around in the chracters in a confusing, yet still entertaining way. The most intense scenes begin to hit you, once you reach the second half of the book. The ending was what caused me to recomend this, due to no matter how much you forshadow you'll always miss the actual ending. It tells of the struggles and pleasures which happened not too long ago in Egypt. It shows how the new freedom the citizens have gained is not so easy to maintain and how exaggerated punishments are in Cairo.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story was alright. I did not like it so much because you did not know characters very well. It also was a little confusing at times about what was going on. Other then that, the book had a good story to it. It even has some humor to it. Overall, I would say that this book is not the greatest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mahfouz is an amazing writer. So it is not surprising that this book is a great story. A brilliant portrayal of Middle eastern and more especially Arab life, Mahfouz succinctly captured in this book the rich and wonderful cultural lives of men and women in Egypt in the first half of the last century. Above all, it tells a story of people in a time when their land is trying to shake off the degrading legacies of colonialism and find a new sense of dignity.