Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, September 1, 2017

Naguib Mahfouz, Karnak Café (1974) (Ron Scheer-archives)

 This short novel by Nobel-winning Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz is a sadly melancholy story of the crushing of youthful hope. Set in the 1960s around the time of the 1967 war with Israel, it describes how a generation of young Egyptians, the children of the revolution of 1954, were betrayed and lied to by their government, while being subjected to interrogation and imprisonment by secret police.

Their story is told by an older man (and stand-in for the author), who befriends a gathering of them who are regulars at a Cairo café, Al-Karnak. There they talk of politics and express their idealistic aspirations, both for themselves and their country. Abruptly disappearing for periods of time, they return shaken and demoralized. While in police custody, kept in windowless cells, they have endured harsh treatment and false accusations.
Eventually it’s revealed that they have been coerced into becoming informants, which corrodes their trust in each other and eventually leads to the death of one of them. Two, a loving couple at the story’s start, are driven apart by their guilt and shame.

Karnak Café is a troubling vision of life in a modern police state, and it sheds light for Westerners on the recent struggles in Egypt for freedom and justice. Novella-length, it takes a stand somewhat distant from political events, while clearly throwing its sympathies to the young people who speak on its pages. It is currently available in paper and ebook format at amazon, Barnes&Noble, and AbeBooks. For more of Friday's Forgotten Books, click on over to Patti Abbott's blog.

Sergio Angelini, EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE, Lawrence Block
Yvette Banek, THE CURSE OF THE BRONZE LAMP, Carter Dickson
Elgin Bleecker, A DELIVERY OF FURIES, Victor Canning
Bill Crider, THE XANADU TALISMAN, Peter O'Donnell
Martin Edwards, INSPECTOR FRENCH'S GREATEST CASE, Freeman Wills Croft
Richard Horton, SNOW COUNTRY and A THOUSAND CRANES, Yasunari Kawabata
Jerry House, LOOK OUT FOR SPACE, William F. Nolan
George Kelly, WEEP FOR A BLONDE, Bretty Halliday
Margot Kinberg, THE COLABA CONSPIRACY, Surender Mohan Pathak
Rob Kitchin, HANNS AND RUDOLF, Thomas Harding
B.V. Lawson, SCARED TO DEATH, Felicity Shaw
Steve Lewis, THE WRENCH IS WICKED, Carter Brown
Todd Mason, TABOO and TABOO 2, ed. Paul Neimark
Neer, SHADOW SISTER, Simone Van Der Vlugt
Steven Nester (THE RAP SHEET) THE SWEET RIDE, William Murray
Matt Paust, THE SECOND COMING, Walker Percy
James Reasoner, COLOR HIM DEAD, Charles Runyon
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, Capsule Reviews.
TomCat, ESCAPE FROM THE TOWER, Roger Ormerod
TracyK, THE ABC MURDERS, Agatha Christie


Kevin R. Tipple said...

For FFB today on this first Friday of September, Barry Ergang shares something different with a number of very short reviews of various books. Come take a look.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Thank you for adding it. :)

Todd Mason said...

Thanks for the kind mentions of late! And for keeping on...

Yvette said...

Patti, along the lines of better late than never - my post for today is now up. Sorry about the lateness, but lack of internet and me being at the doctor's for the afternoon upset my schedule. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I know days like that one, Yvette. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Such a great selection of books this time, Patti. Thanks for including mine, and thanks for sharing the Mahfouz - not an author I've read before.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm finally getting around to reading a book I bought years and years ago

pattinase (abbott) said...

If you like it, write it up and post it some Friday.

ktford said...

Patti, with a tardy response,
A wonderful selection of books, reminders of wonderful reads..