The Quarter: Stories

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In Naguib Mahfouz’s posthumous short story collection The Quarter, the lives of merchants and madmen, women and wise elders, and children and charlatans intertwine in a small section of Cairo.

While each vignette is only between two and eight pages long, there is a heartbreak, an honesty, and a humor to these stories that feels far grander than their brevity suggests. Each story reveals some truth of the human experience, including loneliness, aging, and desire. Each story relates to other stories in the collection. This was, for me, a challenge as I did not read the book all at once; choosing, instead, to read it over a few days, I often lost the threads that tied the stories together. While the book is good as a set of individual stories, I can only imagine how much richer the experience of reading it would be were the reader to experience all of these lives and stories in one session.

The end of the book features the transcript of Nahfouz’s 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech. The speech is well worth reading as it sets up the dichotomy at the heart of The Quarter, which is the need for optimism and hope in the face of darkness.

Reviewed By:

Author Naguib Mahfouz
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 128 pages
Publisher Saqi Books
Publish Date 2019-09-24
ISBN 9780863563751
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue November 2019
Category Poetry & Short Stories


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