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– tekijä: Naguib Mahfouz

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Sarjat: The Cairo Trilogy (3)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut / Maininnat
1,065914,493 (3.97)1 / 113
Story of the family of al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad moving into the middle of the twentieth century while the seeds of contemporary Egypt are sown.
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englanti (5)  hollanti (2)  espanja (2)  Kaikki kielet (9)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 9) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
I haven't read the other books in the trilogy so I was starting backwards with this one, but there wasn't any need to have read the others to enjoy Sugar Street. While in the other books the patriarch of the family is the central character, this book focused on the younger family members, particularly the bookish son Kamal and his two nephews, whose very different paths in life represent distinct political trends in early 20th-century Egyptian life. Two main things struck me while I read Sugar Street: firstly that while I don't know Arabic, I got a strong sense of the elegant economy and poetry of the written language from this translation. The second thing was how much traditional Egyptian middle-class life in the 1920s and 30s as depicted in the book reminded me of Irish culture up until relatively recently. While on the surface there wouldn't seem to be many similarities, the conservative, family-focused, deeply religious patriarchy in which mothers dominated the home felt very familiar. Even the way religion infused the language and thinking of the characters, even the nonbelieving ones, was very like the way Irish culture was for much of the 20th century a Catholic culture. Like in Ireland, families observed religion, gossiped about neighbours, argued about the politics of a young nation and mothers hoped for a civil service career for their sons and a good marriage for their daughters.
The story covers a long period of time and is a little episodic - there were many subplots that could have been explored more, and some main plots that could have been trimmed - I had limited patience for Kamal's endless romantic vacillating, but was engaged by his nephew Ahmad's adventures working for a Marxist magazine and trying to break free of the constraints of traditional middle-class life.
Politics runs through the story constantly, as the characters debate and wonder where the new country will go once the double-crossing English are finally gone. It might be advisable to have a wikipedia entry on pre-war Egyptian history open as you read as the various parties and individuals are mentioned without backstory (and there's no reason why they should be, considering the novel was written first for an Egyptian audience.)
Recommended. ( )
  Clare_L | Sep 20, 2021 |
Los nietos de Ahmad Abd el-Gawwad, el anciano comerciante de El Cairo, se distancian de la tutela familiar y se comprometen con diferentes opciones políticas en el convulso Egipto de los años treinta y cuarenta, desde el comunismo al fundamentalismo islámico. Frente al desencanto de la generación anterior, estos jóvenes encarnan la vitalidad de una nación que afronta con valentía su contradictorio futuro. ( )
  BibliotecaUNED | Jun 6, 2018 |
Deaths, disappointments, regrets, these are the driving forces of the novel which now concentrate on the lives of the grandchildren of the bedridden ex-tyrant al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad and Amina whose no longer cares for her newfound freedoms. The roles of the previous main characters are reduced in order to make way for the new generation whose intended freshness and symbolism for the future Egypt struggle against what feels more like an intrusion and hasty sketches.

Just as the first generation is falling under the natural ails of old age, the second generation manages to scrape through more hardships than their parents ever did: Kamal's lack of character development since the second book is eyerolling, sensible considering his childhood and environment, but it makes for a tedious plot; Aisha's arc flips from pretty-girl-who-glides-through-life to how-much-more-miseries-and-catastrophes-can-we-pile-onto-her-character; Khadija's one-note performance of angry and spiteful-yellings (which the author constantly reminds us actually stands for love in Khadija's language) turns her into a caricature. The only one of the second generation to mature and gain some form of normality is surprisingly the dark horse Yasin. Despite lacking the nuances and details of the previous books in the trilogy, it was still bittersweet to find out that even as time goes on, al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad's family will continue to feel the scars inflicted by the original tyrannical hypocrite. ( )
  kitzyl | Oct 22, 2016 |
"What distinguishes a man from all other creatures, if not his ability to condemn himself to death by his own free will?", 28 Feb. 2014
By
sally tarbox

Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sugar Street (The Cairo Trilogy, Vol .3) (Paperback)
Last book of Mahfouz's 'Cairo Trilogy': this opens some eight years after the cliffhanger end of book 2. Events have taken their toll and the former fearsome patriarch Al-Sayid Ahmad is now a frail elderly man; while his wife now goes out daily, it is her husband who finds himself confined, 'sitting on the balcony...peering out between the spindles.'
This novel focuses on the younger generations: Kamal, a schoolteacher and intellectual, unable to make up his mind to marry - yet craving something more from life: ' "I'm certain that I'm miserable, despite having created a life that assures me both intellectual pleasures and bodily delights." '
Ahmad's grandsons too are interested in politics - one a communist, one a member of the Muslim brotherhood - and politics occupies a great deal of the story. Although the author tries to clarify the events, I found this went on a bit.
I've loved reading this trilogy, which immerses you in the Middle East of yesteryear; the family came to life -( well, maybe not the grandchildren so much) - and I would recommend it. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
It is the end of an era in the history of the al-Sayyid Ahmad family. The younger generation is taking over as Hitler comes into power raising the question of whether or not life would be better under German rule than it had been under 50+ years of British occupation. The Cairo trilogy focuses on the changes that took place in the years after WWI leading into a more modern era. These changes occurred slowly which Mahfouz mirrors with his slow methodical style of writing.

I thought this book was a strong ending to an excellent trilogy. I gained a better sense of the social, religious, and political ramifications in this part of the Muslim world. "The teachings and precepts of Islam provide a comprehensive answer to the problems people confront in reference to this world and the next. Those who assume that its doctrines apply only to the spiritual and devotional aspects of life are mistaken. Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword." (275)

It is good to know that human nature is much the same no matter what country one lives in. Parents care about their children and wish the best for them, love and marriage is challenging, people get old and die, but life goes on. Mahfouz pulls off an almost-perfect ending which isn't an easy feat after 1,000 pages and three decades of the inner workings of one extended family experiencing problems and changes in their personal lives and political and societal changes in their country. ( )
1 ääni Donna828 | Sep 30, 2012 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 9) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (18 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Naguib Mahfouzensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Hutchins, William MaynardKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Samaan, Angele BotrosKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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Their heads were huddled around the brazier, and their hands were spread over its fire: Amina's thin and gaunt, Aisha's stiff and Umm Hanafi's like the shell of a turtle.
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Story of the family of al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad moving into the middle of the twentieth century while the seeds of contemporary Egypt are sown.

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