Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel prize in Literature in 1988. He was stabbed by Islamic extremists after a casual remark about his "blasphemous novel" being the stimulus to Salman Rushdie for his deplorable Satanic Verses. He die in August of last year.

Miramar is a simple story of a small group of people who live in the Pension Miramar in Alexandria. It is a theme in four voices--each one a resident at the pension. The story centers around the attractions, distractions, or interest provided by a young serving girl working at the pension who has left her home and property after she had been threatened with being married off to a man four times her age.

I haven't processed the entire novel--there is much in it about Egyptian politics--subtleties I'm sure I don't understand at all. But the heart of the story is painfully human--lust and desire and how these shape lives, opinions and viewpoints.

Short, perhaps melodramatic, the novel has overtones of John Forsyth and others of his ilk in its attempt to portray the people of a time and place as accurately as possible. Mahfouz has a deft hand with characterization and he has an ability to move quickly into the heart of a character or situation.

Miramar probably isn't a great book, but it is a good enough book to encourage me to read more. And I suppose that's the finest recommendation an author can receive.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 8, 2007 8:07 AM.

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