Thursday, September 11, 2014


The Thief and the Dogs, Naguib Mahfouz, American University in Cairo Press, Egypt, 1984, (published in Arabic in 1961), 158 pp

I haven't read Mahfouz since I was working on my 1959 reading list a couple years ago and read Children of the Alley, an allegorical fable about man's inability to solve the problems of life. That book was a change from the realism of Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy.

The Thief and the Dogs represents another transition for the author: an impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness style and an economy of language.

A man is released from prison after four years. His trial and sentence also lost him his wife and child. A former friend had betrayed the man, testified against him, and stole away the wife and child.

In attempting to reintegrate into society and recover his family, the man only falls upon bad luck and rejection, until finally he descends into despair and madness.

I sensed echos of Camus and Dostoevsky as I read. The translation is excellent but also I think Mahfouz's wide reading of literature from around the world had a large influence on these changes in his novels. Reading nerd that I am, I get excited about things like that.

(The Thief and the Dogs is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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