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This is a sweeping and evocative portrait of both a family and a country struggling to move toward independence in a society that has resisted change for centuries. Set against the backdrop of Britain's occupation of Egypt immediately after World War I, Palace Walk introduces us to the Al Jawad family. Ahmad, a middle-class shopkeeper runs his household strictly according to the Qur'an while at night he explores the pleasures of Cairo. A tyrant at home, Ahmad forces his gentle, oppressed wife and two daughters to live cloistered lives behind the house's latticed windows, while his three very different sons live in fear of his harsh will.
Naguib Mahfouz was most prominent literary figure in the Arab world of the Twentieth Century, best known for his Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Walk), which became an international bestseller. He was born in Cairo in 1911 and lived in the suburb of Agouza with his wife and two daughters for the rest of his life. He published more than thirty novels as well as many collections of short stories, plays and screenplays. In 1988, Mr Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Arab writer to win it. In 1994, after the publication of a novel that led him into trouble with Egypt's religious authorities, an attempt was made on his life, but he died peacefully in 2006, aged 94.