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Recent books by Naguib Mahfouz

Jesse S.
user 14403011
Petaluma, CA
Post #: 2
Hi Book Club,

As discussed, I looked up to see what Naguib Mahfouz had written that was contemporary, relatively contemporary as his last books were in the early 1990s. As I mentioned, Ive read about six books of his and found his style very concise yet eloquent and his views on Egypt fascinating. He won the Noble Prize for literature in the 1990s.

I found two books from the end of his life, that were both well received, and Ive included the synopses.:

1. The Day the Leader was Killed (1983)
Synopsis: The novel follows multiple narratives written in the stream of consciousness format. The novel is set during the early 1980s whilst Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was introducing the infitah or open door free-market economic policies which led to widespread unrest. The plot revolves around a young Egyptian man who is in love with a co-worker, but her father will not permit their marriage because the young man cannot earn enough money to purchase and furnish an apartment. Eventually their engagement is called off, and the woman is engaged to their boss. In a fit of rage and despair, the protagonist murders his boss on the same day that Sadat is assassinated by terrorists, and the two narratives are intertwined. Hearing the news of the President's death is the catalyst for the protagonist's decision to kill his employer. The grandfather of the protagonist reflects on the generational gap in Egypt throughout the novel.

Like many of Mahfouz's novels, the book uses Egyptian history and society to analyze universal themes such as the relationship between love and economics, familiar relationships, death, and the irrationality of human emotion.

2.The Journey of Ibn Fattouma (1983)
Synopsis: Ibn Fattouma, also known by his birth name Qindil Muhammad al-Innabi, is a Muslim man disillusioned by the corruption in his home city. When he asks his teacher, a Sufi, why a land whose people obeys the tenets of Islam suffers so, Ibn Fattouma is told the answer he seeks lies far away from the city. Since travel broadens one's horizons, the teacher encourages Ibn Fattouma to seek the land of Gebel, where such problems have been solved. The teacher tried to travel there himself, but civil war in neighboring lands and the demands of family ultimately prevented him from completing the journey. Also, no documents exist about Gebel and no one is known to have traveled there and come back.

Ibn Fattouma says farewell to his mother and proceeds with a camel train out of his home city to the land of Mashriq. In this sexually libertine society (by Ibn Fattouma's standards), the women and men do not marry, they share sexual partners and they share power over their children. Nevertheless, Ibn Fattouma settles in Mashriq with a woman named Arousa and they have five children as husband and wife. Because of Ibn Fattouma's insistence upon teaching his eldest son Islam, he is exiled from Mashriq and prohibited from seeing Arousa or their children again. Ibn Fattouma then travels to the land of Haïra. The invasion of Mashriq by militaristic Haïra further separates Ibn Fattouma from his family, and when the annexation of Mashriq is finished, Arousa is brought to Haïra as a slave. The chamberlain of the god-king of Haïra wants Arousa as his wife and arranges for Ibn Fattouma to be jailed. Twenty years pass in Haïra before the god-king is overthrown, and the chamberlain (who was also jailed) tells Ibn Fattouma to look in the neighboring land of Halba for his wife and son.

In Halba, the freedom of the individual is the greatest good. All religions peacefully coexist and openly encourage freedom of inquiry. The Halbans are also aggressive promoters of their philosophy of life in other nations; preparations are underway as Ibn Fattouma arrives for a war with neighboring Aman. Ibn Fattouma is reunited with Arousa, who thought him lost and had since married a Buddhist. There Ibn Fattouma meets and marries Samia, a pediatrician in Halba's hospital. With his wife's reluctant approval, Ibn Fattouma decides to continue his journey before war makes such travel impossible.

In the land of Aman, justice is held as the greatest good, and every citizen is encouraged to spy on every other to maintain order. He leaves just as Aman and Halba prepare to fight. His next stop, the land of Ghuroub, finds Ibn Fattouma questioned to the depths of his being. Does he earnestly desire to go to Gebel, and why? Ibn Fattouma states as he has many times before that he seeks to learn Gebel's secret of perfection in life and share it with the people of his homeland. He and the other seekers of Gebel are driven from Ghuroub by an invading army from Aman, and after months of travel, they sight Gebel itself from a mountain peak. As Ibn Fattouma descends to continue his journey, the story ends without the reader learning whether he finds the perfection he seeks.

Jesse S.
user 14403011
Petaluma, CA
Post #: 3
As for availability, both books are available in paperback ($12 on Amazon), but only The Day the Leader was Killed is available for Kindle ($10).
Joan P.
Group Organizer
Sebastopol, CA
Post #: 102
Thank you for all this information, Jesse. You're an asset to our book club!
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