Palace Walk

Author Naguib Mahfouz
Vote 8/10
Reviewed on 2019-07-21
Read in French

This is the story of an Egyptian family in the beginning of the 20th century whose trajectory intersects the historical period of the transition between the English occupation and the establishment of a sovereign state. The family is composed of Abd al Gawwad, a merchant whose behavior is extremely different at home and in the world. When inside his house, he’s a strict observant of one Muslim tradition that makes him the absolute tyrant that everyone owes obedience to. When in the world, he’s a lovely and gentle friend that enjoys the mundane pleasures of life in the form of music, alcohol, and women. Around him gravitate a collection of characters that the writer brings to life with great sensibility, revealing their feelings, their fears, their aspirations, and presenting a rich variety of characters that didn’t fail to capture my heart until the tragic epilogue.

The storytelling might be considered a bit slow by today’s standards, but once we give it a real chance, our patience is rewarded by very touching and revealing observations on the complexity, the contradictions, and the inner beauties of human lives. Highly recommended.