Midaq Alley - Naguib Mahfouz

***** Irony, drama and chatter towards oblivion

This is the second time that I run into the wonderful pen of Mahfouz. The first time was with a collection of historical novels set in ancient Egypt. This time, through this short work, the author narrates about an almost contemporary Egypt. “Midaq Alley” was in fact written in 1947 and tells the story of the inhabitants of an alley in Cairo towards the end of the Second World War. However, this is not a realistic representation of the life in an alley in his city, but a splendid attempt to recount the thousand facets of humanity through its inhabitants.
In fact, in the Midaq Alley, people of the lower and middle classes live side by side, and for some reason others belonging to higher classes end up running into them. Each character represents a type of individual: the virtuous, the proud, the corrupt, the greedy and so on. This is not a slice of real life in the classical sense of the term. The author doesn’t want to create realistic characters, but uses them to show the reality of human nature, in its strengths and miseries, making each of them an example brought to excess.
All this happens through a series of episodes that oscillate between irony and drama, in which the characters go one by one to meet their fate, while the alley continues to be always the same. The clamour for every event, even the most tragic, is lost in a short time among the ceremonious chatter of its inhabitants until it falls forever into oblivion.



Midaq Alley on Amazon.


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