The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz comprises stories from the quarter understood as a small section or community of people. These stories have a pattern, precisely they have a similarity. They trail off like dialogues in a conversation when one’s mind goes numb, or they don’t know what’s to be said next etcetera. You never come to know their conclusions, aftermath or end; like conversations left midway. I personally do not like such situations, they leave me more anxious and dubious about the whole “thing”. Hence, my experience with The Quarter was no different. What was left with me after I finished the book was the Atmosphere that formed the base for it. It took me to Cairo, amidst people and their conventional society. What the stories failed to do was leave a lasting impression. Short stories can be very tricky that way. But I got glimpses of Mahfouz’s element of writing, though not in full glory but a slight glimmer; Mystique and metaphorical, enough to tell me to read and explore his work as I hear he is a stellar storyteller.
It is said that this collection, The Quarter was found in Mahfouz’s drawer after his death and before it was published, so one can only assume and frame their imaginations around it; if these stories are incomplete or if they were bound to be so. Something to think about.
Thank you to the publisher Panmacmillanindia for the review copy.