The Coffeehouse

Mahfouz’s last novel, an evocative depiction of life in Egypt in the twentieth century as told through the lives of a group of friends, is now available in paperback for the first time On a school playground in the stylish Cairo suburb of Abbasiya, five young boys become friends for life, making a nearby café, Qushtumur, their favorite gathering spot forever. One is the narrator, who, looking back in his old age on their seven decades together, makes the other four the heroes of his tale, a Proustian, and classically Mahfouzian, quest in search of lost time and the memory of a much-changed place. In a seamless stream of personal triumphs and tragedies, their lives play out against the backdrop of two world wars, the 1952 Free Officers coup, the defeat of 1967 and the redemption of 1973, the assassination of a president, and the simmering uncertainties of the transitional 1980s. But as their nation grows and their neighborhood turns f

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