The Harafish

The Harafish

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by Naguib Mahfouz, Najib Mahfuz
     
 

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Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988,  Naguib Mahfouz is perhaps the best-known living  Arab writer. His books have had great success in  this country, particularly The Cairo  Trilogy. Fans of the famed trilogy will be  delighted with The Harafish, an epic  novel that chronicles

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Overview

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988,  Naguib Mahfouz is perhaps the best-known living  Arab writer. His books have had great success in  this country, particularly The Cairo  Trilogy. Fans of the famed trilogy will be  delighted with The Harafish, an epic  novel that chronicles the dramatic history of the  al-Nagi family — a family that  moves, over many generations, from the height of power  and glory to the depths of decadence and decay.  The Harafish begins with the tale  of Ashur al-Nagi, a man who  grows from humble beginnings to become a great leader,  a legend among his people. Generation after  generation, however, Ashur's descendants grow further  from his legendary example. They lose touch with  their origins as they amass and then squander large  fortunes, marry prostitutes when they marry at all,  and develop rivalries that end in death. The  community's upper class keeps a watchful eye on the  descendants of al-Nagi for fear  of losing their privileges, but they find no threat  of another such as Ashur. Not, that is, until the  al-Nagi who, like his noble  ancestor, finds his power once again from among  The Harafish, or the common people.  Through the strength of their numbers and their  passion, the glory of the name of  al-Nagi is restored. "Of all  [Mahfouz's] experiments in recent decades, this  is the one which owes least to western inspiration  and is probably the most successful. The  Harafish, fluently translated by  Catherine Cobham, makes accessible and engrossing reading."  — The Washington Post Book  World.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature comes this story of the prominent al-Nagi family, whose descendents nearly ruin its legendary name. (Apr.)
Library Journal
The al-Nagi family's history through ten generations in their Cairo alley is ``nothing more than a succession of deviations, disasters, lessons not learned.'' Ashur, the clan chief and ruler of the community, returns after the plague years to find the neighborhood deserted. Appropriating all the wealth and property, he distributes it to the impoverished (the harafish), creating the Covenant of Ashur. His legend is badly served, however, when succeeding generations succumb to the family curse: ``A desire for status, money and possessions, at the heart of which was anxiety and fear.'' Brother kills brother, and son kills father. The devil is evoked to grant immortality, and debauchery is a common refuge. Mahfouz is at his best in this sweeping meditation on the price, demands, and rewards of greatness. This novel dashes across generations as if across a battlefield littered with the descendants of Ashur al-Nagi. Most highly recommended.-Paul E. Hutchison, Bellefonte, Pa.
Michael Dorris
A whirling dervish of a good yarn.
Los Angeles Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385423359
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/1997
Pages:
420
Sales rank:
1,146,193
Product dimensions:
6.15(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.89(d)

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