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Naguib Mahfouz: اللص والكلاب (The Thief and the Dogs)

After the furore surrounding اولاد حارتنا (Children of Gebelawi; Children of the Alley) (which, though published later in book form, had already appeared serialised in a newspaper), Mahfouz took another break from writing till he produced this one. Said Mahran has just been released from prison where he had been jailed for theft. He wants his revenge on Nabawiyya, his former wife and mother of his daughter, Sana, on Ilish, his friend who has now married Nabawiyya and Rauf Ilwan, his former mentor but now a respected journalist. Sana does not recognise him and screams when she sees him and Rauf has changed and is no longer the revolutionary Said remembers. In short, he has not changed and the others have. He gets a gun and steals a car and money with the help of Nur, a prostitute, and the only one who still seems to like him. And then he plots his revenge on the three of them. Of course, it goes wrong. The fact that Said is also a revolutionary clearly indicates that Mahfouz intended the novel to be not just a straightforward crime story but also a commentary on the failed revolution.

Publishing history

First published in 1961 by Maktabat Misr
First English translation in 1984 by American University in Cairo Press
Translated by Trevor Le Gassick, M.M. Badawi; revised by John Rodenbeck