Naguib Mahfouz

The Harafish
  • The Harafish

  • In this captivating novel, Mahfouz chronicles he dramatic history of the al-Nagi family - a family that moves, over many generations, from the heights of power and glory to the depths of decadence and decay.

    The Harafish begins with the tale of Ashur al-Nagi, a man who grows from humble origins to become a great leader, a legend among the common people - the harafish of the title. Generation after generation, however, Ashur's descendants grow further from his legendary example, losing touch with their origins and squandering their large fortunes, marrying prostitutes and developing bitter and eventually fatal rivalries. And yet, a small hope always remains that one day they will produce a Nagi who can restore their name to its former glory.

    A mythic tale for a modern audience, The Harafish is a compelling display of the weaknesses of the human character - pride, dishonesty, lust, greed - and of the greatness that we are capable of when we overcome them.

Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. A student of philosophy and an avid reader, he was influenced by many Western writers, including Flaubert, Balzac, Zola, Camus, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and, above all, Proust. He has more than thirty novels to his credit, ranging from his earliest historical romances to later experimental novels. In 1988, Mr Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 2006.