Naguib Mahfouz, Autumn Quail

Cairo is burning.

Autumn Quail promises to be a novel of Egypt’s entropy as independence and fledgling self-governance struggle to reconcile the past with the future. It shows the fall from power and the post-revolution purge of government ministers and those who are connected with them.

Autumn Quail reveals the honesty that, sometimes, underlies corruption. It also reveals an optimism for the coexistence of old and new ideals. It is Mahfouz writing from the perspective of Egypt’s old regime – the constitutional monarchy and the liberalism of the then-dominant Wafd political party – as the 1952 revolution unfolds.

Mahfouz has done this more thoroughly in many of his other writings, and Autumn Quail is one of his weaker novels. Somewhere between short story and novel, Autumn Quail, for the purpose Mahfouz gave it, should have been a much shorter work.

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Naguib Mahfouz, The Thief and the Dogs

Said Mahran is a fugitive once more. Imprisoned for four years on counts of burglary, he pursues vengeance for the perceived treacheries of his erstwhile friends and ex-wife at the same time that he seeks the affection of his 4-year-old daughter who never knew him.

Already new loves blossom and old thieves live ensconced in palatial villas, denouncing their old trade without irony. Said Mahran remains unchanged, though he nurses an embittered heart.

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