Arabian Nights and Days
by Naguib Mahfouz
Though it is set in an Islamic city in medieval times, the reader will find much in this novel that is surprisingly familiar. It depicts a city plagued by widespread corruption among its most powerful citizens, and a pervasive sense of social unrest. The chief of police is kept particularly busy dealing with the underground activities of religious sects intent on changing the unscrupulous regime. Amid all of this, genies appear out of bottles accidentally opened by innocent individuals, affecting their lives in exciting, sometimes detrimental ways. Naguib Mahfouz has here produced a novel that is as colorful and entertaining as the Thousand and One Nights that inspired it.