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Cairo Modern

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In Naguib Mahfouz's suspenseful novel a bitter and ambitious nihilist, a beautiful and impoverished student, and a corrupt official engage in a doomed ménage à trois.

Cairo of the 1930s is a place of vast social and economic inequities. It is also a time of change, when the universities have just opened to women and heady new philosophies imported from Europe are stirring up debates among the young. Mahgub is a fiercely proud student who is determined to keep both his poverty and his lack of principles secret from his idealistic friends. When he finds that there are no jobs for those without connections, out of desperation he agrees to participate in an elaborate deception. But what begins as a mere strategy for survival soon becomes much more for both Mahgub and his partner in crime, an equally desperate young woman named Ihsan. As they make their way through Cairo's lavish high society their precarious charade begins to unravel and the terrible price of Mahgub's Faustian bargain becomes clear.
Translated by William M. Hutchins

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 16, 2009 – This new translation of an affecting early novel about love and social climbing by deceased Egyptian Nobel laureate Mahfouz (the Cairo trilogy) follows the fortunes of a Cairo university graduate eager to make his way in a venal 1930s imperialist society. When new graduate Mahgub Abd al-Da'im learns his father is at death's door and his monthly stipend will soon be terminated, he accepts a ministry position out of desperation. There is also a very large string attached: he must marry the minister's beautiful young mistress. The dishonor of this Faustian bargain is further underscored by the revelation that the young woman, Ihsan, was the ideal love of one of Mahgub's university friend's, and the two intended to marry before she was encouraged by her calculating family to accept the minister's seduction. Fallen characters, Mahgub and Ihsan set out on their single-minded path toward material advancement. Mahfouz is a master at depicting shifting forces of motivation, and despite some dated stereotypes, he offers a keen psychological portrait of a complex society in the midst of radical transformation.
Cairo Modern
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Dec 01, 2009
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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