Cascoly Books: Best Fiction from Egypt and North Africa

Cascoly Books - Best Fiction from Egypt and North Africa

Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel winning author, is best known in the English speaking world for his

1950s Cairo Trilogy

  • · Palace Walk
  • · Palace of Desire
  • · Sugar Street.

Set in the parts of Cairo where Mahfouz grew up the trilogy follows the household head, el-Sayyed Ahmed Abdel Gawad and his family over three generations, from World War I to the 1950s. They were written in the early 1950s, soon after when King Farouk I was overthrown. Its been compared to Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, and Galsworthy, for both his descriptions and characters. It's over 1500 pages, but absorbing and compelling throughout, giving a picture of Egyptian life in mid-20th century. The political upheavals of post World War II form only a distant backdrop to the more intimate lives of the family.

Send a Fax to the Kasbah

Typical Dunnett Byzantine plot, yet set in modern Morocco. It's amazing how intricate her webs become, with only a half dozen major characters, yet each of them appears to have multiple connections and motivations. The story runs from Marrakech to seaside Esssaouria, then back to the Atlas mountains. Her descriptions of Morocco give vivid reality to the otherwise fantastic storyline


The Abyssinian

 Yet another interesting concept, well begun, but ultimately retreating to cliché. The first half of the book is quite good – detailing the travels of an embassy from Louis IV to the Negus (emperor) of Abyssinia in 1699. The novelist makes good use of the intrigues and mistrust among the various Catholic and other Western factions. The hero is a young herbalist whose medical knowledge gives him near miraculous powers, and provides several easy escapes from intricate plot devices. But these sections do impart a good sense of what it might be like to travel in these then unknown parts of the world, down the Nile, through Egypt and the Sudan, and ultimately to Ethiopia. (A good map would have been handy for this, as the areas involved are not well-known, even today.) But, about half way through, the descriptions and background can’t hide the predictability of the plot, and the Candidean romantic subplot detracts from the overall effect

In an Antique Land - Amitav Ghosh

Story of an Indian student adrift in  a foreign culture - Egypt.  While dealing with his own problems he becomes immersed in the story of Indian traders in Egypt centuries before.

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