"Palace of Desire" is the second of three novels in the Cairo Trilogy by the 1988 Egyptian Nobel Laureate, Naguib Mahfouz. The story centers on the two remaining sons;Yasin and Kamal.Kamal struggles with his father over the choice of his university studies: he wishes to become a teacher and writer of philosophy, while his father wants him to pursue a career in law.
Yasin earns the disapproval of his father over the divorce he is forced to grant to his pregnant first wife because of his rape of this wife's maid in their living quarters.Yasin follows a life of lust ; after the divorce, he marries the fiancee of his dead brother, Maryam, over the objections of his stepmother, Amina, who remembers Maryam's love of a British soldier.
Yasin proves unfaithful to Maryam who demans a divorce after Yasin brings hoje his lover, the lute-player, Zanuba, who is presently his father's mistress. They make love in Yasin's living room, awakening Maryam who screams and throws him out.
The family's vicissitudes are a metaphor for Egypt's struggles in the years from WWI to the thirties, when the government forms a parliamentary democracy. However, the novel ends with the dissolution of the government and the demoralisation of the family.
This report prepared by Betty-Jeanne Korson