The Day the Leader Was Killed by Naguib Mahfouz

By Naguib Mahfouz

AN ANCHOR PAPERBACK ORIGINALFrom the Nobel Prize laureate and writer of the acclaimed Cairo Trilogy, a beguiling and artfully compact novel set in Sadat's Egypt."[Mahfouz] is not just a Hugo and a Dickens, but additionally a Galsworthy, Zola and a Jules Romain."--Edward SaidThe time is 1981, Anwar al-Sadat is president, and Egypt is lurching into the trendy international. Set in contrast backdrop, The Day the chief was once Killed relates the story of a middle-class Cairene relatives. wealthy with irony and infused with political undertones, the tale is narrated alternately by means of the pious and mischievous relations patriarch Muhtashimi Zayed, his hapless grandson Elwan, and Elwan's headstrong and gorgeous fiancee Randa.  The novel reaches its climax with the assassination of Sadat on October 6, 1981, an occasion round which the fictitious plot is skillfully woven. The Day the chief was once Killed brings us the essence of Mahfouz's genius and is additional facts that he has, within the phrases of the Nobel quotation, "formed an Arabic narrative artwork that applies to all mankind."

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She said, in her dulcet, fat-choked voice. At sixty, she seemed more childlike than my own six-year-old daughters—as if something in her had been arrested and the body had aged while the mind blithely, indeed obstinately, remained in infancy. “I will not grow up,” her blue eyes seemed to say. I immediately saw the resemblance between her and her son, the determination to cram oneself with goodies—to the point of nausea if necessary—simply to prove one could do as one pleased. ” Mrs. Donegal asked petulantly.

The story seemed so manifestly canned—as if it had been told many times in these circumstances for the same reason. It was a sort of code, and I had cracked it early. “I was born rich, eccentric, and spoiled,” it said, “and I hope you find this charming, for it’s my only gambit. ” “Ha ha,” I laughed. ” Mrs. Donegal did not appear to detect the hollowness of my laughter. Glad to have a new audience for old stories, she went on and on about Mummy’s taste in caviar and her own debutante days at the Stork Club, her wedding trip to Europe with Ven (the Delahaye broke down in the Alps), and how darling Trick was as a baby.

Wing, like many contemporary women, apparently believed that the secret of happiness was not to be found in the illusion of “the perfect man” but rather in finding strength within one’s self. That strength once found, one could be happy with or without a partner. This search for inner happiness constitutes the fable of Any Woman’s Blues. It has as its theme a woman’s search for a way out of addictive love and toward real self-love, which is not to be confused with narcissism. It should not surprise us that this is so, for inevitably in a writer’s life, “one tends to subsume in a book one is writing all the conflicts one is trying to resolve at that particular time” (Isadora Wing, Interview, 1987).

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