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Naguib Mahfouz

The Harafish

Naguib Mahfouz The Harafish
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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 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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